June 10, 2009, 12:00 AM

To make m-commerce easy, Skymall does not ‘squish’ its e-commerce site

When planning what to include on its m-commerce site, Skymall began with the proposition that its mobile site is a point-of-sale device in a consumer’s hands. As such, the experience needed to be quick and easy, says Jay Scannell, a speaker at IRCE 2009.

An m-commerce site is not an e-commerce site: A retailer simply can’t fit onto a mobile site everything that’s on its conventional site. Consequently, retailers have to figure out what best serves a mobile shopper to determine what to include on an m-commerce site.

At Skymall Inc., executives started with a fundamental proposition: M-commerce is a point-of-sale device in a consumer’s hands. As such, it wanted to make its mobile site and text message purchasing program as quick and easy as possible-which meant a focus on process and basic content as opposed to bells and whistles or too-fancy design.

“What do shoppers want access to, to help them make the buying decision? Which tools and content do we need to increase conversion and improve the customer experience?” says Jay Scannell, vice president of information technology at Skymall. “Looking at the mobile web analytics, if we get a high number of customers coming but the conversion isn’t as high, we re-evaluate the checkout sequence or the ordering process, for example, and see if there are new tweaks we can make to further improve the experience.”

Scannell is speaking at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition, June 15-18 in Boston, in a session entitled Creating a plan for what to put on a mobile site. Skymall is No. 151 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

While flashy imagery, video and deep content can be helpful on e-commerce sites, Scannell says, they can get in the mobile shopper’s way, and thus do more harm than good in m-commerce.

“We haven’t spent a lot of time with zoom or enhanced content because we feel trying to provide an e-commerce experience on a mobile device does not work. It ends up being a poor customer experience,” he explains. “We tried not to squish our e-commerce site into the mobile channel and instead looked at providing just the information a customer needs and is useful that doesn’t take away from the overall customer experience.”

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