August 20, 2009, 12:00 AM

Mobile commerce tech vendors experiencing a pre-holiday season boom

In the next three months, look for as many as 20 new m-commerce sites, mobile technology vendors report.

Mobile commerce technology vendors are experiencing a rush-numerous retailers pounding their doors wanting a mobile site or app out in time for the upcoming holiday season. Major m-commerce site and app builders are reporting to Internet Retailer having numerous retailers in the pipeline with launch dates in the three months ahead.

“We expect to launch 10 mobile retail web sites between September and November,” says Jason Taylor, vice president of mobile products at mobile technology vendor Usablenet Inc. “It’s about availability. During the holidays, everyone is very busy. Retailers can use mobile to take advantage of any downtime people have when other channels are not as easy to use.”

Taylor adds that this year more than any, retailers want as many channels as possible open for business during the holidays. “That is a driving factor,” he says. “With the economy being the way it is, they want to maximize every opportunity to be open for business, and that includes on mobile sites.”

Business also is booming over at m-commerce site and app builder Digby, with clients preparing launches citing the upcoming holiday season as a major reason they’re jumping into mobile commerce now.

“We have a lot of retailers in the pipeline,” says Dave Sikora, CEO of Digby. “It’s clear from our clients readying a launch that there’s definitely a push right now to have some kind of mobile presence for the holiday season. There’s a sense of urgency right now to engage with customers in the mobile channel with the thinking that come January they’ll learn from the holidays and create a whole mobile strategy.”

There are numerous retailers, big and small, in m-commerce today. Digby, which says it will be investing millions more in its technology in the next two years, says customers, especially those with smarter mobile phones, want a mobile-optimized experience from retailers, who are beginning to realize this.

“The mobile channel has been validated through the acceleration of adoption by consumers of smartphones, through the extraordinary success of Apple’s App Store, through the realization by more and more consumers of just how rich an experience they can have on a mobile phone, through the sheer volume of web traffic we’re now seeing from phones,” Sikora says. “Many retailers have looked at these facts and have recognized that this is a new way to engage customers, and judging from the traffic coming to their e-commerce sites from mobile devices, they recognize that customers are expecting it.”

E-commerce and m-commerce technology provider CardinalCommerce Corp. reports it will launch four mobile commerce sites in the next 30 days; three of those four retailers are in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. It also says it is in the middle of “very productive talks” with many more retailers.

“The holiday season is motivating all these retailers,” says Tim Sherwin, executive vice president and co-founder of CardinalCommerce. “We’re in a tough economic time and retailers want to capture every sale they can get. Because of the very high visibility of mobile overall today, retailers have begun giving m-commerce serious thought. Every retailer can access their log files and see the traffic coming to their e-commerce sites from mobile phones. If it hits 5%, that’s a significant number. And we have retailers hitting double digits. If you don’t have a mobile-optimized experience, then you’re turning away customers, possibly sending them to competitors with mobile sites.”

Sherwin adds that the big leap in adoption of smartphones along with soaring use of Google search on all mobile phones are key factors driving the need for mobile-optimized sites.

“People are out and about and on the go and very busy during the holiday season, and more and more of them have an iPhone, Palm Pre, BlackBerry Bold, Google Android,” he says. “People will be hunting down products, comparing prices, seeing what stores products are available in. Additionally, Google mobile searches are soaring. And during the holidays when people are searching for all kinds of products, the mobile search results will lead to retailers’ sites. If those search results don’t redirect to a mobile-optimized site, that’s bad news for the retailer.”

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