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Walmart Canada launches location-based mobile site

Walmart Canada has launched the beta version of a mobile site where consumers can browse the items of their local retail location.

The new mobile site can be accessed across multiple Web-enabled wireless devices. Walmart Mobile is in beta for the holiday season in preparation for an eventual commercial roll-out.

“I think it is very important for a brand that has a presence online to also have a mobile presence these days,” said Drew Pitts, senior director of sales at Impact Mobile, New York. “Consumers want information on the fly and the use of mobile phones and mobile technology allows them to access that content and information whenever, wherever. 

“Brands that allow consumers to engage with them through mobile have a distinct advantage when it comes to today’s busy lifestyle,” he said. “Mobile presence allows for instant access, impulse buys and an opportunity for a new way of consuming.”

Walmart Canada operates 312 stores across Canada and each store carries close to 80,000 different products in categories such as apparel, home décor, electronics and grocery.

Consumers can check out Walmart Canada’s mobile site by typing into their wireless device’s browser.

The WAP site asks for the consumer’s current location so the proper retail inventory and store promotions can be served to the user.

Once on the mobile Web site, consumers can browse the current promotions. The site features prices and detailed product information.

Additionally, users of Walmart Canada’s mobile site can see the current week’s circular to find even more savings.

Consumers are not locked in to their closest retail location. Users can change the retail store selection and browse the sales at different Walmart locations throughout Canada and view a map of nearby stores.

Mr. Pitts said that he thinks all retailers and brands that are online should also be on mobile, no matter if it is the holiday season or not. He cautioned that retailers should not simply dump online content onto the mobile browser.

Mr. Pitts said that clean and clear messaging with specific content and features that make sense to the retailer’s campaign should be on the mobile page.

“Retailers need to be smart and strategic when building a mobile destination, which should not be busy like typical Web sites,” Mr. Pitts said. “The mobile experience is different from the Web and needs to be treated as such. 

“Features like browsing items, seeing store circulars, specials or promotions, finding store locations, alerts via SMS/IVR and virtual ‘salespeople’ programs all improve this overall experience and when done correctly will increase sales,” he said.

Scott Dunlap, CEO of NearbyNow, Mountain View, CA, said that retailers that have mobile sites help drive consumer interest, especially around the holiday season.

Mr. Dunlap said that retailers cannot simply replicate their PC Web site.

Instead, Mr. Dunlap said that retailers should use the mobile experience to their advantage and showcase products, newest arrivals and to provide the latest news from their store.

“Most people still want to touch and feel products before they buy, so a mobile application for retailers should be designed to get shoppers excited about getting to the store as quickly as they can to check out what they’ve just seen on their mobile phone,” Mr. Dunlap said.

“If retailers simply create a WAP version of their Web site, they will be doing a disservice to themselves, because the opportunities on a mobile device can go so far beyond that,” he said.