Williams-Sonoma adds recipe app, grows e-commerce to 50% of revenue

Williams-Sonoma (NYSE:WSM) continues to build out its digital retail segment—e-commerce now represents half of its annual revenue—and now the company is turning its attention to mobile with the addition of a new app.

The home goods and lifestyle retailer announced its first app, Recipe of the Day. The app will feature a different recipe for each day of the year year, culled from the company's large database of recipes featured in the Williams-Sonoma catalog.

There's a built-in search tool that allows users to filter recipes based on the course, season, cooking technique, ingredient or dietary preference—such as vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free. Features of the app include a tool that helps users make shopping lists as well as a way to track favorite recipes.

In an unusual twist, the app is not free. After a one-month trial, Williams-Sonoma requires consumers to buy a monthly or annual subscription. Currently the cost is $1.99 per month or $11.99 per year.

"Chuck Williams, our founder, contributed to more than 100 cookbooks over the last three decades, and our new app will help share his passion and knowledge of cooking with a new generation of Williams-Sonoma fans," said Janet Hayes, president, Williams-Sonoma.

Digital has become an important platform for the revenue and sales at Williams-Sonoma. In 2014, 50 percent of the retailer's revenue was generated by e-commerce.

Mobile is a new component of Williams-Sonoma's digital strategy, and one that represents a great growth opportunity.

"We're focused on mobile. Our mobile sales were up 100 percent year over year last year, and a big part of that was the improvements we made in the site experience," said Pat Connolly, executive VP, chief strategy and business development officer, Williams-Sonoma, during a conference call with analysts. "We're making great strides in site personalization, built in customer recognition and then delivering personalized content, and also improving the post-purchase experience.

"We're really just continuing to strengthen the technology foundation and respond to the ways that customers now want to interact with us, and without ever compromising the site experience that really enhances the lifestyle that we project with each of our brands."

For more:
-See this Williams-Sonoma press release
-See this Seeking Alpha transcript

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