Before HSN Inc. jumped into mobile commerce in August 2009, it observed that the iPhone ruled the roost when it came to use of the mobile web. So it targeted those users with an iPhone app, specially designed for them.
Then the Android mobile operating system began gaining ground, so HSN created an app for users of phones with Android. HSN followed that with an app for Nokia phones.
The multichannel merchant, No. 25 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, then realized that mobile commerce was without doubt picking up steam and that it had to reach the greatest number of its customers as possible in the mobile channel. That realization led it to the planned launch tomorrow of an m-commerce site, accessible by any web-enabled phone (typing in HSN.com in a mobile browser automatically redirects a user to the mobile-optimized site).
“As we watched user behavior we noticed a lot of consumers were going to the full web site on mobile devices—it has been a small but growing number and it became very clear there was user interest in being able to use a mobile-optimized site,” says John McDevitt, vice president of advanced services. “We really needed an optimized experience to make it convenient, relevant and easy for any consumer anywhere to shop HSN.”
The m-commerce site, built by both in-house staff and a vendor HSN declines to name, is fully transactional and offers many of the same features and functions found on the e-commerce site, including guided navigation, site search, featured products, product images and even live streaming video (for phones that support the technology) of programs on HSN TV.
Competitor QVC, part of Liberty Media Corp., No. 11 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, also has a mobile stable including an m-commerce site, apps and a text messaging program, which HSN also operates. HSN does not see the addition of an m-commerce site as a move required to compete with QVC but rather something it had to do to best serve its audience.
“It’s not about competition as much as it’s about customer satisfaction,” McDevitt says. “It’s not a two-horse race; it’s truly about how you really satisfy customers as much as possible, and we clearly have seen customer desire for easy-to-use mobile commerce. Trying to go to a regular web site on a mobile phone is just not a good experience. So creating a mobile experience that’s optimized across handsets is key.”