September 18, 2009, 12:00 AM

K&L Wine Merchants launches a mobile site aimed at passionate imbibers

The retailer is targeting its core customers, passionate wine enthusiasts and collectors, giving them a comprehensive reference resource. The goal is not just to sell via mobile, but for mobile to drive customers to K&L stores or its e-commerce site.

K&L; Wine Merchants is enabling its customers to shop its vast assortment of wines anywhere and anytime through a newly launched mobile commerce site, m.KLWines.com. Mobile shoppers entering the e-commerce site address, KLWines.com, will be automatically redirected to the mobile site.

The goal, the multichannel retailer says, is to give its core customers, passionate wine enthusiasts and collectors, the ability to research wines on the go-such as when they are in a restaurant, store or airport-as well as jump on sales with limited stock before wines sell out.

The primary focus of going mobile for K&L; Wine Merchants, No. 356 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, is to serve as a reference tool that engenders brand loyalty and drives shoppers to stores or the e-commerce site. For now, selling through the mobile channel is secondary.

The site enables purchasing in two ways: through click-to-call functionality and, for iPhone and Palm Pre users, through a redirect during the mobile ordering process to the e-commerce site’s shopping cart. Shoppers also can use an e-mail feature to send themselves reminders with product links to purchase specific wines later when they’re on a computer at home or work.

“The thought is to get a site out there on the mobile web that is highly usable and enables customers to view our entire inventory, to give people at this stage in mobile retailing an opportunity to play with a site, gather information and go from there as they choose,” says co-owner Brian Zucker.

The m-commerce site, built by Unbound Commerce, cost about $30,000. Normally a similar m-commerce site built by the mobile technology vendor would cost between $40,000 and $50,000. However, the vendor has partnered with e-commerce technology vendor Endeca Technologies Inc., used by K&L; Wines, to create an interface between the two companies’ systems that allows Unbound and retailer clients to use Endeca’s data repository and other features to sidestep many data creation and navigation set-up requirements, explains Keith Lietzke, chief marketing officer at Unbound Commerce.

83.4% of retailers in m-commerce use a vendor to build their sites or apps, according to Internet Retailer research. K&L; Wines opted to use a vendor because it found it would be less expensive than building it in-house and because it already had Endeca technology that linked with that of Unbound Commerce, Zucker explains.

“For us to go and recreate the e-commerce experience for mobile devices would consume time and resources. Unbound Commerce has a mobile commerce system that plugs right in and starts working. It was a complete no-brainer,” he says. The retailer was able to launch the mobile site quickly, in a way that leveraged existing assets, such as the Endeca system, and without any disruption to the existing e-commerce site, Zucker adds.

Zucker will measure initial success of m-commerce by the amount of traffic on the site. He’s not initially looking at orders generated because he views the mobile site as a tool that will drive customers on the go into K&L; Wine stores or to the e-commerce site. But it’s difficult to measure how much the m-commerce site contributes to store and e-commerce sales.

“From our perspective,” he says of mobile as a multichannel tool, “initial success will be measured by visitors and activity on the mobile site."

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