June 15, 2011, 6:37 PM

IRCE 2011 Report: Getting a handle on mobile commerce

GourmetGiftBaskets.com and PacSun achieve results with their mobile strategies.

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For Ryan Abood, the path to m-commerce involved Post-it notes, he said at IRCE 2011.

When the desk of GourmetGiftBaskets.com CEO Ryan Abood started to fill with green Post-it notes last year, he knew it was time to go mobile. Because at his company, the notes were reserved for keeping track of the most severe customer service complaints his company received: the ones where shoppers for some reason couldn’t check out.

“They were all saying, ‘I can’t check out with my Android,’ or, ‘My iPhone is having trouble with the payment page,’” he told attendees today at Internet Retailer’s Conference & Exhibition 2011 in a session about getting a handle on mobile apps.

So, in time for the holidays, the web-only gifts retailer, No. 452 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide, launched a custom mobile-optimized site for about $20,000. In about six months, thanks in part to a barrage of e-mails alerting customers of the new option, the retailer has already achieved 3% of total sales from mobile devices, he said.

Now GourmetGiftBaskets.com is moving on to mobile apps, and the transition, so far, has been relatively painless, Abood says. “If you develop your mobile site in-house, you’re going to find a lot of things will translate fairly well into your mobile app,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to divide both pieces of going mobile into smaller projects.”

For apparel retailer Pacific Sunwear of California Inc., the right time to roll out its iPhone app also coincided with the company receiving about 3% of total sales from mobile devices, a milestone achieved about four weeks ago. Tim Katz, senior operations manager for PacSun, No. 255 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide, told attendees in the same session that the retailer had rounded up more than 10,000 downloads of the app so far.

The feature-packed app includes standard search capabilities, as well as an outfit builder, GPS push notifications and QR codes, which are two-dimensional bar codes. The retailer worked with Usablenet Inc. on its app.

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