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Furniture retailer Carolina Rustica unveils mobile commerce site

Furniture retailer Carolina Rustica Inc. is reaching consumers on the go and driving sales via its newly launched mobile commerce Web site.

Carolina Rustica tapped mShopper’s new self-service B2B mobile commerce platform, which is designed to help retailers of any size to design and launch a customized, feature-packed mobile storefront in under one hour that can be viewed on any smartphone.

“Our objective [for launching a mobile commerce platform], like all ecommerce sites, is to get our product and our message out to as many potential customers as possible within our target demographic,” said Richard Sexton, president of Carolina Rustica, Concord, NC. “Having a Web site by itself is not enough.

“You have to be engaged through social media, coupon offers, email campaigns and mcommerce,” he said. “MShopper contacted us right as we were beginning this process with mobile commerce, and they have been incredibly easy to work with.

“It’s been a good marriage for both of us.”

Carolina Rustica is a retailer specializing in hand-crafted iron and wood furniture, including beds, bakers racks, bar stools and dining tables.

In addition to Carolina Rustica, mShopper’s clients include Beach Camera, Surfsideshop, Superior Lighting, Smartmomma, Extrememoto, Jewelry Shopping and Dr. Skin Spa.

Self-service mobile commerce platform
Mr. Sexton said that mobile commerce was a no-brainer given his company’s consumer-base.

“Our target demographic is ideally suited to mcommerce: primarily higher income, college-educated homeowners, many of whom are furnishing a second residence,” Mr. Sexton said.

“These customers tend to be very technologically adept, with high-speed connections, smartphone ownership and a comfort level with ecommerce,” he said.

Carolina Rustica’s biggest challenge is presenting logical navigation and categorization for its nearly 100,000 products online.

“It is very, very difficult to capture this on any type of mobile commerce platform, much less a fully functional Web site,” Mr. Sexton said.

“So we have had to be selective about which products to feature on mShopper and will continue to work with them to make information about our company—FAQs, shipping info, etcetera—readily available,” he said.

To use mShopper’s mobile commerce platform, retailers log on to and follow a self-service wizard to create an account, upload their existing product data feed and design their own custom-branded “mStores.”

Help is available throughout the process from detailed instructions, how-to videos and a FAQ section.

The company claims that retailers can be selling to 65 million U.S. mobile shoppers without any IT development, technical resources or upfront investment.

Some of mShopper’s features include:

• Intuitive design tools that create custom headers, copy, and other branding elements

• Built-in merchandising tools to feature hot deals and change prices on the fly

• SEO tools that help on-the-go shoppers find a retailer’s mobile store

• Modules to create customized applications and submit them to the three major app stores

• Built-in analytic dashboard that displays traffic, sales and profitability metrics

Here is a screen grab:

GetFirstDibs via SMS
The company has also launched GetFirstDibs, which allows retailers to create and promote a sign-up form where shoppers opt-in to receive “first dibs” on a retailer’s best specials via text message.

The retailer can generate a database of mobile shoppers future promotions.

When it is time for product promotion, the platform lets retailers to select a product, write copy and click a button to transmit their promotional text messages.

The built-in analytic dashboard displays the effectiveness of each campaign in terms of clicks and conversions to sales.

MShopper launched its self-service mobile commerce platform following a successful three-month beta program that involved more than a dozen retailers in multiple product categories.

Company officials noted that they will soon announce partnerships with other ecommerce providers such as affiliate networks, ecommerce platforms and digital marketing agencies.

“Merchants can use our software-as-a-service platform to launch a mobile commerce solution in under an hour—our target market is marketers,” said David Gould, CEO of mShopper, Boulder, CO. “We want them to be able to come in, go through the software and create a great feature-rich mobile solution, with a focus on driving sales and ROI.

“GetFirstDibs is the secret sauce for retailers to drive traffic to their mstore via a shared short code,” he said. “The program is designed to induce our merchants to aggressively build their permission-based opt-in mobile database.”

Final Take
Dan Butcher, associate editor, Mobile Commerce Daily