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What are the linchpins for 2011 mobile Web commerce success?

Retailers that were late to the game in terms of launching commerce-enabled mobile Web sites are now faced with the added challenge of leapfrogging over competitors in 2011 with advanced features and functionality.

A lot of retailers came to market with mcommerce sites in 2010 and will spend 2011 making these destinations more personalized for individual shoppers. Therefore, retailers that are planning their mcommerce site launch in 2011, have to focus on the basics, but also need to play catch-up and roll out sites with advanced functionality such as social media integration and behavioral targeting.

“Many retailers are waiting to launch their optimized mobile Web site until mobile commerce becomes more significant, but we believe that the opportunity is now,” said Bob Cell, CEO of MyBuys, New York. “The longer retailers wait to launch a mobile site, the more time they give their competitors to establish a successful mobile presence. 

“Retailers that wait could fall prey to the early adopters which are putting up an optimized mobile site now,” he said. “Shoppers aren’t likely to come back to a site on their mobile device to see if it is optimized yet, they are going to find a competitor that offers what they are trying to find on an already easy-to-use optimized site. 

“With low barriers to entry and affordable cost, there is no real reason for any brand or retailer to wait. The opportunities are significant – mobile commerce is growing exponentially every year and many in the industry are predicting that mobile commerce is the future.”

Personalization on a mobile site could mean many different things. It could mean that a consumer is tracked once they visit a retailer’s site and are shown products according to the parts of the site they click on.

Many retailers have yet to address the mobile commerce opportunity of implementing personalization as the basis for their optimization. Because mobile shopping sites display little content, it is paramount that all offers and products are relevant to each consumer.

A good example is Baby Phat, which launched its mobile commerce-enabled site Oct. 4.

New shoppers are assigned a cookie when they land on, which begins tracking from the first click. But even before the shopper clicks on an item or category, the Baby Phat site personalizes the homepage based on how that person arrived at the site such as from a paid search keyword (see story).

Social integration
Social integration into mobile Web sites is not only good for the user; it is also a great way for a brand or retailer to allow consumers to share the products they like with the people closest to them.

In the case of Facebook integration, the people closest to a consumer could mean a list of more than 1,000 friends.

Adding the “Like” functionality to each and every product depicted on a mobile commerce site is advised.

In the case of Steve Madden, the brand saw stellar results.

Basically, consumers who shop Steve Madden’s mobile site can now choose to “Like” a product. The Like action is then posted to the user’s Facebook Wall, for all friends to see.

Friends that see a pair of Steve Madden shoes that their peer just “Liked” can click and be routed to the product page for that shoe on Steve Madden’s mobile commerce site.

This new promotional push increased Steve Madden’s mobile site traffic by 30 percent in just the first 24 hours after integrating the functionality.
Facebook’s Like accelerates the viral nature of a brand or retailer’s branding efforts.

When the brand introduces a new product, when a celebrity is wearing something by the brand or the press has featured the company, it can quickly and effectively share this excitement and information, which can be viewed over mobile.

It adds speed, efficiency, energy and the opportunity for fans to react in real time – anywhere, anytime – to what is going on with the brand.

Mobile advertising
In 2011, many retailers will realize they have a mobile site in place, but now what?

How does one go about getting traffic to a mobile site and let people know it even exists?

Yes, using traditional existing media assets like ecommerce sites to promote a mobile commerce destination could work to let people know the site exists. But this type of promotion likely will not get people to go to the site right then and there.

Mobile advertising such as display banners and mobile search engine marketing could do the trick. 

A consumer who is already browsing the mobile Web or who is searching for a brand on a mobile device, will likely click to visit the mcommerce site of that brand or retailer.

“Store location and hours are key components to the experience with easy click to call functionality which serves to bring the consumer closer to making a purchase by enabling contact to be made very easily,” said Dennis Glavin, manager of the North American mobile search advertising business for Microsoft, Redmond, WA.

“Incorporating Google Maps is also a great idea,” he said. “The bigger picture challenge is still organizational alignment around the importance of mobile.

“Once the key stakeholders are on board, all of the parts and players line up to support driving sales via mobile and helping the customer understand that it’s an option. Mobile search will improve as retailers invest in it.”

Data capture
Retailers will be increasingly adding a data capture section to their mobile commerce sites. It only makes sense.

A consumer visiting a mobile Web site for a company is already showing interest in that particular brand.

Asking the consumer to provide his or her email and mobile phone number is a great way to continue the conversation with them at a later time.

Brands can use this information to send secret sale offers, mobile coupons, company news and other information to a database of opted-in subscribers.

“Mobile data is an interesting bolt on to a mobile strategy, the need to cache data on the device for future interactions is important,” said Steve Timpson, president of siteminis, Atlanta.

Final take
Giselle Tsirulnik senior editor of Mobile Commerce Daily