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British department store Debenhams rounds out mobile strategy with mobile site

British department store chain Debenhams has launched a mobile shopping site in time to meet the needs of gift shoppers for the upcoming holiday season.

The mobile site, which was developed in-house, addresses the significant growth in traffic to Debenhams’ traditional Web site from mobile phones. It joins existing apps and mobile marketing strategies from the retailer.

“The mobile site allows Debenhams to reach all smartphone devices, rather than just the iPhone, Android and Symbian devices that the mobile applications are currently available on,” said Harriet Williams, head of digital development at Debenhams, London.

“The mobile site has been built to capitalize on the growing mobile traffic to,” she said. “In August 2011 there were 650,000 visits to from mobile devices, an increase of 320 percent year-over-year.

“We have launched the mobile site ready for Christmas 2011 when we expect to see significant sales through mobile phones.”

Reaching different customers
Debenhams operates 153 stores across Britain and Ireland.

The mobile site joins an existing Debenhams app that was built using features on the phone such as the camera and GPS to create a richer experience.

The app offers bar code scanning, Debenhams TV, a store locator feature, push notifications, gift finder and wish lists.

In its first six months, the Debenhams iPhone app has been downloaded more than 500,000 times and has taken in more than one million pounds in sales.

An iPhone app for the department store’s Beauty Club loyalty program is also available.

The mobile site and the apps target different customers.

“The mobile site is targeted at less loyal shoppers and browsers who are searching on the mobile Web, whereas the Debenhams application is for our loyal customers who want a permanent link to Debenhams on their phone,” Ms. Williams said.

Users on the mobile site can find store locations and hours, make purchases and watch Debenhams television and become a fan on Facebook.

The mobile site will be promoted via search marketing, affiliates, Debenhams Facebook and Twitter, email newsletters to customers, in Debenhams television ads and through in-store collateral.

The retailer’s other mobile strategies include using Aurasma augmented reality to bring its print ads to life and the integration of QR codes in smaller stores to extend the range of products being offered.

The retailer is also trialing the use of QR codes in its advertising and location-based marketing with apps such as VoucherCloud.

“Mobile is having an increasingly important role across the business,” Ms. Williams said. “In addition to generating mobile sales, mobile has been incorporated into our marketing through SMS, mobile coupons and QR codes.

“It has also been introduced into stores through the bar code scanner integrated into the Debenhams apps,” she said. “The bar code scanner allows the app to act as virtual assistant giving the customer further information on products in store.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York