November 21, 2009, 12:00 AM

Five retailers blazing a new trail

A new feature this year highlights five retailers that are showing the way in the rapidly emerging m-commerce channel.

This year, for the first time, Internet Retailer honors merchants that excel in mobile commerce. And the line-up, five out of the 116 retailers with 156 m-commerce sites and apps, is a gallery of powerhouses and pioneers.

Mobile allows consumers to buy in new ways. A forgetful husband on the morning train suddenly remembers it’s his anniversary. He whips out his smartphone, opens up his 1-800-Flowers.com app, touches Same Day Delivery, touches long-stem roses, touches Add To Cart, and checks out fast by signing into his existing 1-800-Flowers.com account without leaving the app.

“More than likely people won’t be in front of a PC at those times they are most able to be a consumer. So their mobile phone becomes key in a new commerce experience,” says Steve Yankovich, vice president of platform business solutions and mobile at eBay.

And eBay knows this well, as it’s on track to rack up $500 million in sales in 2009 through its m-commerce site and mobile app. The mobile channel lets customers bid anytime, anywhere, making mobile a great fit for eBay.

Sears’ mobile app uses a smartphone’s GPS technology to pinpoint a shopper’s location and showcase relevant products-a Bears jersey in Chicago during football season, for example. Amazon’s app enables shoppers to snap a picture of, say, a movie poster, and see products related to that movie.

And SkyMall lets consumers shop at over 500 miles per hour. When a shopper downloads SkyMall’s app, she gets the app and the entire product catalog. So she can browse, search and add to cart in the air, and purchase as soon as she lands.

These are five highly innovative merchants in retailing’s emerging fourth sales channel.

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