July 13, 2010, 6:28 PM

Mobile commerce explosion!

BigCommerce plans to bring 6,000 new m-commerce sites to life.

Lead Photo

By the end of the month, one e-commerce platform provider is going to single-handedly change the face of mobile commerce. There are around 175 retailers active in m-commerce today, according to Internet Retailer research. When BigCommerce later this month flips the switch activating the latest version of its e-commerce platform, delivered through the software-as-a-service model, all 6,000 of its merchant clients will have mobile-optimized versions of their e-commerce sites.

BigCommerce clients’ m-commerce sites will be optimized for the iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, Palm Pre and Android mobile devices. Consumers who tap in a BigCommerce retailer client’s web site address into their phones will be directed to the mobile-optimized version of the retailer’s site; consumers coming to the sites via other mobile devices will be directed to the conventional e-commerce site.

BigCommerce will take the data feeds used to create and populate the merchants' e-commerce sites and funnel them into templates specially designed for mobile web sites. There is no extra fee for mobile optimization, which will be bundled into the technology provider's new version of its e-commerce platform.

The move by BigCommerce confirms a major trend in m-commerce: e-commerce vendors adding m-commerce functionality to their platforms and launching the new functionality with a huge number of their retailer clients.

In June, Yahoo Stores, which has 45,000 merchants on its platform, and m-commerce technology provider Unbound Commerce inked a deal to collaborate in mobile; they predict 250 new m-commerce sites by year’s end. Also in June, e-commerce platform provider Venda Inc. and m-commerce technology vendor Digby announced a partnership; they predict 200 Venda clients will have m-commerce sites by December.

Then on July 2, Internet Retailer exclusively reported that software-as-a-service e-commerce platform vendor Shopatron Inc. will launch mobile-optimized sites for 610 of its more than 800 mostly consumer brand manufacturer clients, with the rest to come by fall.

Now comes BigCommerce. Today the company, which targets small and mid-sized merchants that reap up to $5 million in annual sales, begins the final phase of a closed beta test with 500 of its clients that it handpicked based on the amount of feedback they’ve provided in past. The vendor will use their feedback on the new m-commerce functionality to make any final tweaks to the latest version of the e-commerce platform and release the new system sometime before the end of the month.

“Smaller retailers don’t have the budgets the big guys do so they have to make the most out of every impression on their site when someone comes to their store. And if a shopper comes to their store on a mobile device and it’s not a mobile-optimized experience, he’s going to leave and go somewhere else,” says Mitchell Harper, co-founder and co-CEO of BigCommerce. “Adding mobile commerce to our e-commerce offering is another way for us to help our merchants increase their conversion.”

Harper says the world is changing fast, and retailers have to change with it if they want to be successful.

“It’s very clear: People are not just shopping from their desks anymore,” he says. “They could be on a bus or a train, or sitting in a theater waiting for a movie to start. They literally can be anywhere. And people browsing the mobile web now expect to see a version of a web site that looks good and works well on their phones. If they don’t see what they expect, they will think your business has fallen behind, and that can really damage your credibility.”

BigCommerce will make a formal announcement on its e-commerce platform upgrade and new m-commerce functionality toward the end of the month.

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