Mobile's surge

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Brands embrace m-commerce by developing apps and building sites for smartphones and tablet users
Brands embrace m-commerce by developing apps and building sites for smartphones and tablet users

“We priced out some options for building [a mobile site] from the ground up and we thought, why don't we try this [Mercent partnership] out and see if we're doing well,” says EyeSave president Darren Lilien. “We have been getting sales through it.” He would not offer more concrete figures.

New investments

Several brands recently made or planned to make their first m-commerce investments within the past six months. PriceGrabber, which has dabbled in mobile apps, built its first mobile commerce site in November. Tim Fernholtz, senior product manager at PriceGrabber, says the new site is “everything on our [e-commerce] site, but basically in a mobile version.”

The mobile site, which was built in-house, is different than PriceGrabber's e-commerce site in that it offers location-based features. The company also launched the DealGrabber app for iPhone in November, which enables consumers to view aggregated deals from daily deals companies.

PriceGrabber is working on technology that will enable consumers to discover more information about any product on the market by snapping a picture of the product on their mobile device and then submitting it to PriceGrabber. Fernholtz says the technology will be available for the holiday season.

Private sales site, Totsy.com, generates more than 20% of its traffic on its m-commerce site. However, the company recently began a two-to-three year mobile strategy that includes the March introduction of custom-made social- and community-based mobile apps for the iPhone, iPad and Android, says Christophe Garnier, cofounder, president and CMO of Totsy. The company is working with Diaspark to develop the apps, which Garnier says will enhance the company's “shop and share” philosophy.

Reebok-owned The Rockport Co. launched its first m-commerce site two months ago. The footwear retailer built the site to be compatible and accessible across different devices to maintain a consistent user experience.

“We kept the layout simple, the navigation intuitive, [with] touch screen features and prioritization of content so our customers are not overwhelmed,” says Kimberly Correia Hunt, head of e-commerce at Rockport. “Growth rates in mobile usage, ownership, traffic and revenue is far outpacing the growth of desktop e-commerce sales.”

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