News rolls back into m-commerce

January 4, 2012 03:47 PM

From 2008 to 2010, operated a mobile commerce site, one primitive by today’s standards. The site was the product of a highly template-oriented system from m-commerce technology provider mPoria, which in 2010 disappeared, leaving 24 retailer clients in the lurch.

So used 2011 to rebuild, creating a mobile commerce strategy that focused on building an app for iPhones and Android phones that presents the retailer’s complete line of products in a visually appealing and quick fashion. It debuted both versions of the app in December.

“We felt we could control the design and display of an app much easier than with a site, and that we could do bug tracking much easier with an app,” says Jeff Stone, president of, No. 681 in Internet Retailer's Second 500 Guide. “There are so many different mobile web browsers that it’s difficult to control the experience on an m-commerce web site.”

The web-only retailer uses an e-commerce platform from Magento Inc., which has expanded its offerings to include mobile app development. So worked hand in hand with Magento to design and build its mobile app.

The top of the home screen is devoted to the e-retailer’s logo; the bottom to a slide-bar that includes pictures and text for six product categories. Buttons below include Home, Shop, Search, Cart and Account. Customers swipe up and down the Shop screen to view 35 product categories through which they can drill down to product detail pages. And the Account screen includes links to account information, an address book (which speeds data entry when placing an order), order history, wish list and more. The account and shopping cart are synchronized so that information entered on the e-commerce site will be visible through the mobile app, and vice versa.

“The No. 1 most important function of the app is the seamless integration with the e-commerce site,” Stone says. “Being able to access account information wherever you are and having a persistent, synchronized shopping cart so you can check out however you like are key.”

Next most important, Stone says, are customer reviews. For now he is positioning the app as a research tool, encouraging shoppers in stores to compare prices with And customer reviews, he says, are an important part of the research process because consumers trust the voices of other consumers.

The long-term goal for the app is to get shoppers buying products through the app, not just using it as a research tool to later make purchases on the e-commerce site. The initial target for the app is a 2% conversion rate.

The merchant soon will begin promoting the app through messaging on sales receipts and on the e-commerce site. It will use Quick Response, or QR, 2-D bar codes. These codes link a smartphone with a QR code reader to the mobile web. In this instance, a scan of a QR code will lead a consumer to the appropriate app store page where they can download the app. The e-retailer also will include messages about the app in numerous e-mail blasts.

In the future, will add a 1-D bar code scanner to the app, one that can easily scan Universal Product Codes (UPC), which are found on virtually every consumer product sold in the U.S. “It goes with our push to make the app an in-store research tool,” Stone says. “This way, customers don’t have to type anything; a quick scan will show them our price.”




Top Solution Providers