March 17, 2010, 12:00 AM

Columbia Sportswear extends its e-commerce strategy into the mobile arena

After introducing ColumbiaSportswear.com as its first e-commerce site last summer, the outdoor sportswear manufacturer and retailer has launched a mobile commerce site built on the same Demandware platform.

After introducing its first e-commerce site last summer, outdoor sportswear manufacturer and retailer Columbia Sportswear Co. has launched a mobile commerce site built on the same on-demand technology platform from Demandware Inc.

“We’ve gotten a great response already on our mobile site as well as on our e-commerce site,” says Paul Zaengle, senior director of e-commerce for Columbia Sportswear. “Traffic on both sites is growing dramatically.”

Columbia quickly picked up on the demand among its customers for a mobile site soon after launching ColumbiaSportswear.com last August, as tens of thousands of customers per week accessed the new e-commerce site through their mobile phones.

“Mobile visitors were still in the low single digits in terms of percent of all visitors, but it was still a significant number of customers-and they weren’t getting a great shopping experience on our web site,” Zaengle says.

Although the shopping experience varied among mobile shoppers based on the type of mobile phone they were using-“even in the best of cases, the shopping experience was clunky” with slow page loads and erratic display of content, he says.

By deploying a separate mobile site on the same platform at ColumbiaSoftware.com/mobile, Columbia has been able to provide a distinct but robust mobile shopping experience, Zaengle says. At the same time, the shared Demandware platform enables Columbia to quickly replicate on the new mobile site content and functionality from the e-commerce site, including merchandising images and site search and navigation.

By logging into a shared administrative interface on the Demandware platform, Zaengle and his staff can create and modify web content for both sites simultaneously, such as when they add new product images and pricing, while also arranging to have images appear on a smaller scale on the mobile site. They can also use that interface to alter certain content and functionality, such as condensing multiple product categories from the e-commerce site into a single category on the mobile site, Zaengle says.

“We want the mobile site to mirror our e-commerce site, but we also want shoppers to have a different experience on the mobile site,” he says.

Scott Todaro, senior director of product strategy for Demandware, says Columbia and apparel and home furnishings retail chain Barney’s New York are the first two retailers to deploy Demandware’s mobile commerce platform. Another six retailers are planning to go live with it later this year, he adds.

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