July 27, 2010, 3:20 PM

Deciding how to go mobile

Retailers must weigh the pros and cons of designing a mobile site.

Lead Photo

Nicholas Cole, marketing director, The Catholic Co.

Since The Catholic Co. launched its first mobile shopping site in March, the multichannel retailer has found that most of its customers making purchases from their mobile phones are doing so through the company’s main web site, not the mobile one, says marketing director Nicholas Cole.

Cole, who will speak at the Mobile Commerce Forum 2010 in a session entitled Designing for mobile: Create a new mobile site or go with your web site? is unsure about why. But he says customers with smart phones might be so used to using those devices to buy items from the main site that it will take a while to change those habits. And more changes loom.

“It is early, but my concern is that if the iPad continues to catch on, there may be no point in designing a mobile site,” he says, adding that the tablet computer’s full screen could make it easier for consumers with mobile devices to shop from a retailer’s main site.

In the session, he will describe the decisions Catholic Co. and other retailers face when weighing the potential pros and cons of creating a mobile site. Retailers must consider such things as how much traffic comes to their sites through mobile devices;  for Catholic Co., one of the deciding factors was the orders it received each week from consumers on mobile devices, even if the purchasing process was relatively inefficient.

“I hope fellow retailers will commit to learning what mobile commerce means to them and if they decide to build a mobile optimized site they test, preferably as cheaply as possible,” he says. “Our biggest decision factor was to learn what was possible; we really needed to experiment to learn what mobile meant to our organization.  What advice can I offer?  Watch your analytics, the results may surprise you.”

Why the editors asked Nicholas to speak:

In March, Trinity Road launched its first mobile shopping site, CatholicCompany.com/mobile. Nicholas Cole is responsible for web operations and development, e-mail and affiliate marketing, merchandising, social media and customer care. Prior to Trinity Road, owner of The Catholic Co. and other religious and inspirational niche brands, Nicholas held an online media sales position at Freedom Communications and was director of marketing for Not Lame Recordings, a niche record label, cataloger and online music store.

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