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Brooklyn businesses get boost from mobile-optimized Web directory

The Park Slope Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) is aiming to increase foot traffic to neighborhood stores with a new mobile-optimized version of its Web site.

Mobile Web developer Mobile Meteor created the handheld-compatible site with the BID, which represents a formal organization of business owners and tenants in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn, NY. The Web site includes a directory of local businesses organized by commercial category.

“The overall strategy was to make the Park Slope Fifth Avenue BID’s site and business directory – which lists all of the street’s bars, restaurants, stores and other businesses – simple and easy to use on a smartphone,” said Denis Hurley, founder and president of Mobile Meteor, New York. “The result would be a mobile-optimized site that gets current and potential customers into local businesses and gives the BID a way to build ongoing relationships to keep people coming back to Fifth Avenue.”

The Park Slope Fifth Avenue BID, New York, was founded in 2009 by the Fifth Avenue Merchants Association to promote and maintain merchants and businesses on Brooklyn’s 5th Avenue.

Mobile Meteor helps small businesses set-up mobile-optimized Web sites.

How it works
Mobile Meteor’s platform detects whenever a consumer is trying to reach the BID’s Web site from a handheld device and loads the mobile-optimized version.

Web site functionality varies depending on the type of handset, but each version enables features such as click-to-call, information screens with news and photo content and integration with social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Yelp.

Here is a screen grab of the application home page on the iPhone:

The iPhone version of the Web site includes additional features, letting users rotate the screen to view more information.

When users rotate the iPhone clockwise, they access a business directory that they can use to find businesses organized by category.

Here is a screen grab of the business directory feature in action:

This information is available on BlackBerry, Android and other mobile devices with an extra click.

Each business listing includes directions and a phone number that users can click to call.

By rotating the iPhone counter-clockwise, users access a page with news items about the Park Slope Fifth Avenue BID.

Businesses on the BID site include banks, gyms, restaurants, pet care services, florists and a wide range of other stores, per Mobile Meteor.

“Having a mobile site ensures businesses keeps customers who may have been looking for them on a smartphone but give up because they can’t find the basic information they need, like an address, phone or menu,” Mr. Hurley said. “It also offers new opportunities to raise awareness about businesses’ brands and promote whatever services and goods they provide.”

Small business goes mobile
Businesses – even small businesses – are turning to mobile commerce with increasing frequency.

For example, over 50,000 merchants of varying sizes have signed up to offer deals to consumers through the Shooger mobile couponing application (see story).

In addition, a number of mobile developers are offering cost-effective solutions for mobile Web site development, opening the door for small businesses (see story).

Mobile Meteor said that small businesses looking to expand into mobile need to ask themselves two questions.

“One: ‘Are current and potential customers trying to find me on smartphone?’” Mr Hurley said. “And, two, ‘Would having a simple marketing tool that helps me build long-term relationships with customers help grow my business?’

“If a business answers yes to one or both, then they probably need a mobile site,” he said.

Final Take
Peter Finocchiaro, editorial assistant at Mobile Commerce Daily