August 24, 2010, 12:49 PM

With 8% of its traffic coming from mobile phones, a retailer jumps into m-commerce

Your Electronic Warehouse entered the channel before more mobile shoppers arrived.

Bill Siwicki

Managing Editor, Mobile Commerce

Lead Photo

DiscountGolfWorld.com screenshot

Earlier this year, 8% of traffic hitting Your Electronic Warehouse’s three e-commerce sites—4ElectronicWarehouse.com, 4Luggage.com and DiscountGolfWorld.com—came from mobile devices. So in May the retailer launched an m-commerce site for each of its three brands, joining a handful of merchants with more than one mobile site.

Growing traffic from mobile devices drove Your Electronic Warehouse, No. 470 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, to go mobile before even more mobile shoppers visited the site.

“Mobile commerce is definitely going to get bigger,” says Justin Meats, vice president. “We looked at it, and we decided it was not that big a challenge to get our feet wet, so we figured we should learn now before the number of mobile shoppers increases.  Get it out there, start out small, and let’s figure this out. Half the battle is jumping in, doing it and tweaking it from there.”

Of that 8% of traffic coming to the sites, the clear majority come from smartphones. Of smartphone traffic, 39% stemmed from iPhones and 36% from Android devices. The soaring adoption of smartphones is the key driver of m-commerce as the devices allow for a rich web experience that smartphone owners expect.

“We saw more people coming from the iPhone and more sales from the iPhone shoppers and that was when we said let’s see what we can do,” Meats says.

Prior to, and since the launch, of the m-commerce sites, Your Electronic Warehouse received a fair amount of traffic from Apple Inc.’s iPad. Some retail executives consider shopping on iPads m-commerce. Many, however, do not. And that’s primarily because consumers visiting merchants on an iPad still shop the standard e-commerce site.

“We’ve gotten a lot of sales from iPads, though those shoppers access the full e-commerce site,” says Meats. “The site looks the same as it does on a laptop, so the iPad is not really mobile. When you come to our site on a mobile browser, you are automatically redirected to the m-commerce site. When you come to the site on an iPad, you go straight to the e-commerce site, just like on a PC. Mobile commerce is focusing on those devices with smaller screens.”

The retailer built its m-commerce sites in-house, and says the cost was the equivalent of one month of one designer’s time. The retailer declines to give an exact figure. When it comes to its return on that investment, Your Electronic Warehouse says it won’t have long to wait.

“Probably within the first year we’ll see a definitive return on investment, and then growth from there—especially as we see more and more people using smartphones,” Meats says.

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