Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more!

B&H Photo Video extends full Web site merchandising capabilities to mobile

Photography and video equipment retailer B&H Photo Video has expanded its brand, products and services to the mobile channel.

B&H selected search and business intelligence company Endeca Technologies Inc. to extend its full Web site capabilities and merchandising tools to mobile environments, using the same platform powering its PC Web site. The newly launched B&H iPhone application leverages B&H’s existing backend commerce systems and product breadth to deliver a consistent user experience to the mobile customer base.

“B&H is a very customer-oriented organization—we are driven by what we feel is right for the customer, and our thinking when we started ecommerce was that it is another channel for customers to interact with us and shop with us,” Shia Meisels, director of research and development at B&H Photo Video, New York. “We’re trying to have a very integrated, consistent experience so you can buy online or via mobile and come into the store and it’s always the same price and the same inventory information.

“We want to serve the customers via whichever channel they want to interact with us,” he said. “We realized that even though nobody knows exactly the impact of mobile commerce, we know for sure it is an additional channel, a way that customers want to interact with their day-to-day shopping experience.

“We decided to accommodate our customers, and although we’re not sure if it’s going to be generating new revenue or shifting revenue from one channel to another, it’s irrelevant—if that’s how customers want to interact with us, we need to be there.”

B&H Photo Video claims to be the largest non-chain photo and video equipment store in the United States. It serves professionals and consumers through four channels: an online storefront, a print catalog and its New York bricks-and-mortar flagship store, as well as its new iPhone application.

Headquartered in Cambridge, MA, Endeca’s clients include Boeing, Cox Newspapers, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, Ford Motor Co., Hyatt, IBM, the Library of Congress, Texas Instruments and

B&H goes mobile
Like many retailers, B&H Photo recognized the emergence of the mobile channel as an opportunity to reach its loyal customer base with the ability to research and purchase products anytime, anywhere.

B&H sought a way to expand into mobile before the holiday season while maximizing its existing Web site infrastructure and merchandising capabilities.

Already using Endeca’s search, Guided Navigation and Page Builder merchandising tools, B&H was able to extend its mobile channel quickly, per Endeca.

B&H has relied on Endeca to lower its total cost of ownership while still innovating with new content.

Entering the world of mobile commerce was a natural next step for B&H to create a consistent multichannel user experience.

Its non-technical business users can make ongoing changes and improvements across all commerce channels that can go live in a matter of minutes, per B&H.

Endeca provides one mobile commerce platform and toolset enabling B&H’s business managers to have total control over the user experience, changing content dynamically on its PC Web site and mobile environment simultaneously.

Additionally, B&H can create mobile-optimized user experiences with out-of-the-box Endeca mobile commerce components such as prebuilt templates, merchandising cartridges and a store locator.

B&H integrated with its existing backend commerce systems and Web site features, which allowed the retailer to extend its ecommerce platform, shopping cart, product data and PowerReviews user reviews into the mobile channel.

Consumer adoption of smartphones has accelerated.

In the third quarter, smartphone usage surged to 31 percent, versus 19 percent in the third quarter of 2009, according to the Nielsen Co.

Content and community are key parts of an integrated mobile offering.

By using out-of-the-box components and prebuilt mobile features from Endeca, B&H Photo Video was able to enter the mobile channel with the introduction of an iPhone application well in advance of the holiday shopping rush.

Plans are already underway for a B&H Android application, which will be controlled from the existing Endeca mobile commerce platform.

The B&H Photo mobile application for iPhone is available for download in the App Store.

The B&H app lets consumers browse and buy

The company is promoting the application with a banner on its PC Web site and via emails it sends out to opted-in customers letting them know that there is another way to shop at B&H.

“We had to start somewhere, and the reason we started with iPhone first is that it is very popular and we have a strong relationship with Apple as a reseller, but we’re also working on our Android app to be released soon,” Mr. Meisels said.

“Mobile commerce is already a big opportunity in Asia, and the U.S. market is definitely taking shape,” he said. “Just as with ecommerce, there is going to be a maturity cycle.

“We want to serve up a similar experience to all of the different channels, including mobile.”

Final Take
Dan Butcher, associate editor, Mobile Commerce Daily