January 18, 2011, 1:50 PM

Mobile commerce is more than selling via a smartphone

When developed well, it’s a powerful multichannel tool.

Lead Photo

Foot Locker's m-commerce site gives shoppers the ability to find the nearest store that has the product they're looking for in stock.

Beat your feet over to the mobile commerce site of Foot Locker Inc. Just type in FootLocker.com on your smartphone. (And if you don’t have a smartphone, get with the program, for cryin’ out loud.) Here you will find a great example of how m-commerce can be used to join sales channels together and steer customers wherever they choose to shop.

When you get to a product details page, there’s a prominent text block above the Add to Cart button; line one reads “Available In Stores” and line two reads “Check Availability.” After you’ve entered your shoe size, you touch the availability button and then, to pinpoint your location, you are given the option of using your smartphone’s GPS technology or entering your ZIP code. Having the GPS option, by the way, is key because you’re likely away from home and probably don’t know the ZIP code of where you’re standing. So, once location is determined, the site displays a list of stores close to you and says whether or not the shoe is in stock. Brilliant. (The retailer built its m-commerce site using technology from CardinalCommerce Corp.)

You could be in a Foot Locker store already, one that doesn’t have the shoe in stock, and quickly find the nearest location that does. You could be at your parents’ house and decide to go shopping for those shoes now and do a quick check to find out where you need to go in their neck of the woods. You could be among the people out there who are uncomfortable conducting a financial transaction on a mobile phone and use the m-commerce site to get you to the closest store to complete a purchase.

Foot Locker is a step ahead of many retailers by offering this kind of feature in the mobile realm. It clearly understands that mobile can blend channels in a way that best serves customers. And you, too, need to appreciate this. Where to start? Make sure you have a robust store locator feature that makes use of a smartphone’s GPS technology. You can do this on m-commerce sites and in mobile apps. From there, visit the m-commerce sites of others and see what they’re up to. There are many lessons to be learned out there. And Foot Locker is one retailer that leads the way.

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