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Wide Open Spaces tackles product discovery via mobile search engine

Flash retailer Wide Open Spaces has rolled out a dedicated mobile and desktop search engine site that lets sportsmen comb through more than 1.5 million products across 142 retailers and 1,200 brands.

The new social search engine can be accessed at and is optimized for both desktops and mobile devices. Wide Open Spaces also has its own mobile and ecommerce site, but the goal of this new site is more around helping consumers discover products from all over the Internet.

“A single site that tries to do everything often fails at doing any one thing well,” said Chris Mitchell, cofounder/vice president of engineering at Wide Open Spaces, Austin, TX.

“Our members can quickly search for the gear they want at great discounts on our shopping site, or head over to our media site to be informed and entertained,” he said. “By keeping them distinct, we can focus on features unique to a specific goal without comprising the overall experience.”

Social searching?
Wide Open Spaces claims that the new social search engine caters to the approximately 47 million hunting, shooting and fishing professionals in the United States.

The brands include Under Armour, Columbia and Duck Commander, and two of the biggest retailers are Bass Pro Shops and Sportsman’s Guide.

A big search bar stretches across the screen where consumers can type in keywords to find relevant products.

A menu button in the top left-hand corner of the screen also lets consumers search for products based on price, store or brand.

The search results can then be scrolled through, and a click-through on a product directs consumers to the retailer’s mobile or Web site where they can buy the product.

Each product can be shared via Facebook.

Additionally, Wide Open Spaces is running mobile pop-up ads on the site to collect email addresses for its daily newsletter.

Mobile flash
Wide Open Spaces was founded in 2011 as a hub of content and commerce tailored for sportsmen and women.

Beyond commerce, Wide Open Spaces has a heavy emphasis on content, and the company’s Web and mobile site features articles and blog posts.

Last year, the company launched a commerce-enabled mobile site to expand its ecommerce offerings (see story).

Since Wide Open Spaces is a flash retailer, mobile undoubtedly plays a big role in how consumers are finding and buying deals throughout the day.

For example, Rue La La and Gilt’s business have shifted to be primarily driven by mobile.

Last August, a Rue La La executive speaking on a panel at eTail East said that mobile could realistically generate 60 percent of sales for the retailer in the future. At the time, mobile represented 40 – 50 percent of revenue (see story).

The initial increase in traffic from smartphones and tablets forces Wide Open Spaces to prioritize initiatives with a mobile-first perspective.

“We’re creating a community of sportsmen that care about the same things, not the least of which includes finding good deals on the gear and supplies they need,” Mr. Mitchell said.

“Since our members can be found in big cities, remote hunting blinds and everything in between, it is important to us that they receive a high quality experience from us regardless of where they are, and that means taking extra time to design a quality mobile experience that they can access on the go,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York