June 15, 2011, 4:50 PM

IRCE 2011 Report: Shoppers’ needs must shape m-commerce goals

Retailers Crutchfield and GameStop move into mobile commerce.

Lead Photo

At IRCE 2011, Todd Cabell tells attendees how to meet m-commerce goals.

In 2009, Crutchfield.com wanted to know if shoppers were accessing its e-commerce site by mobile phones. Management was surprised to learn that shoppers using mobile phones were doing more than research. “It was a small number but some were actually buying,” Todd Cabell, senior manager of web strategy, said this week during the Technology Workshop at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2011 in a session titled “The M-Commerce Maze: How to sort out the technology that will power the next shopping revolution.”

Cabell was amazed because the consumer electronics retailer’s e-commerce site is complex and loaded with products and related information. When Crutchfield.com realized shoppers were coming in through the mobile channel the company set out to improve their experience and began developing a mobile commerce site.

Retailers who are contemplating entering mobile commerce  can learn from Crutchfield.com’s experience ahead of launching its mobile commerce site in December 2009. Making technology choices are at the heart of developing mobile commerce, but before making that choice, retailers need to answer three questions, he said: What are your customers’ mobile needs now? What are your business objectives for mobile commerce? What is your strategy to accomplish those objectives?

Retailers should assess where mobile shoppers spend the most time on e-commerce sites, and what they do when they get there, Cabell said. If they are buying, retailers need to identify what they are buying; if they are researching, what information are they seeking? Then, after learning why consumers come to the retail site, examine why they leave and where they are when they leave. This can pinpoint obstacles that can be fixed, he said.

In addition to analytics, Crutchfield.com conducted user testing to guide its mobile effort. “We took a ‘low-fi’ approach,” Cabell said. “We posted an ad on Craigslist and asked mobile shoppers to come in and navigate the site, and tell us what they find and what they feel about our site.”

Meanwhile, gaming retailer GameStop.com has a mobile commerce site soft launch under way and chose a mobile site as its entry point to m-commerce instead of developing an app, said Shawn Freeman, the retailer’s senior vice president, general manager of digital business, and a co-presenter at the session.

Like Crutchfield, GameStop researched consumer behavior and the marketplace and concluded that shoppers use mobile commerce sites more than apps—for now. “We think that will change in the next year or two,” Freeman said. “We are big believers in apps.” GameStop is planning to launch a mobile app by the end of July, he added.

Both GameStop and Crutchfield are exploring designing for tablet computers, which offer yet another variation on e-commerce. “We see the tablet as a potentially huge new gaming platform,” Freeman said.

 

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