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Costco goes mobile to increase revenue

Retailer Costco has launched a mobile commerce-enabled site that it hopes will serve as an additional revenue stream.

The mobile site can be accessed at from any Web-enabled mobile device. The site places a great emphasis on the role of search, with the functionality displayed front and center.

“An additional revenue stream was part of the strategy behind the site,” said Robb Walters, director of site design at Costco, Issaquah, WA. “We also want to ensure that we provide the best possible services to our members.

“We recognize how the needs of members are changing and mobile provides a convenience,” he said. “It is a bridge between online and warehouse shopping.”

Also displayed prominently on the mobile site is the option to sign up for email and text alerts.

Consumers can text the keyword COSTCO to short code 71034 to get alerts about new products, when coupons are coming in the mail and special events.

The reasoning behind the launch of the mobile commerce-enabled site was based on the amount of traffic Costco was seeing on its PC site, coming from mobile devices.

Costco saw a 1,400 percent increase in mobile device traffic to its PC site. This highlighted that consumers are on their devices trying to shop

The mobile site lets consumers browse what is new online and via specific categories.

Consumers can find Costco warehouses closest to them by enabling the site to use their current location, or by entering a ZIP code.

Also, site visitors get to view Buyers’ Picks, which is an online exclusive.

“Customers are looking for a means of efficiently accessing their retailer of choice,” Mr. Walters said. “For Costco we saw the mobile channel has a means of satisfying our member’s needs.

“This is Costco’s first move into the mobile space,” he said. “We expect to launch apps as well for BlackBerry, iPhone and Android devices.