November 22, 2010, 5:08 PM

Retailers get into the mobile spirit

Office Depot and REI are beefing up or launching mobile initiatives to boost holiday sales.

Lead Photo

The office retailer's iPhone app

Office Depot is getting down to business with its holiday mobile marketing strategy. It’s launched a holiday gift app for the iPhone to help shoppers find and buy gifts.

The free app features 30 holiday gifts that users can buy directly through the app, and also offers a store locator, order tracking and order history and the ability for registered shoppers to log in to their Office Depot  accounts. The app accompanies Office Depot’s similar new micro-site.

While Office Depot, No. 5 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, has launched a special gift app to drive more holiday sales, 32 others are launching mobile sites and features in anticipation of the 2010 holiday season using services from m-commerce vendor Usablenet Inc. 16 retailers, three auto and transportation companies, five health, four self-service, and four travel companies are launching mobile sites, apps or improvements, Usablenet says. Projects include the mobile version of Neiman Marcus’ Christmas Book and the CVS Flu Shot Scheduler iPhone app. Usablenet also is launching or extending mobile initiatives for J.C. Penney, Tesco Direct, JD Sports, REI  and designer apparel, housewares and beauty retailer House of Fraser. Usablenet launched today an m-commerce site for high-end apparel retailer Juicy Couture. The vendor anticipates 16 more mobile launches by the end of the year.

Office Depot and around 70 other big-name retailers also are seeking to drive in-store sales by participating in Google’s mobile local store availability tool. That tool shows mobile phone users who search Google not only stores nearby that carry the items they are looking for, but also stores where the item is in stock. The feature uses a smartphone’s GPS geolocation detection capabilities to recognize where a shopper is and show her nearby stores where an item is in stock. Shoppers also can enter a ZIP code if they want to search inventory in stores in other locations.

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