September 19, 2011, 1:46 PM

The number of visitors to Finish Line’s m-commerce site soars

The merchant uses its mobile site as a multichannel selling tool.

Lead Photo

The retailer's m-commerce site home page (above) includes multichannel features such as a store locator and a look-up button for customer reviews for consumers standing in stores.

In the fourth quarter of 2009 3% of The Finish Line Inc.’s web traffic stemmed from mobile devices, the merchant reports. It launched a mobile commerce site in 2010 and mobile traffic quickly tripled. Today 14% of the apparel and accessories retailer’s web visitors shop the m-commerce site.

Finish Line says that younger consumers are driving its mobile business.

“Finish Line targets the youth market, ages 18-29, and mobile is essential for reaching these buyers,” says David Seifert, vice president of e-commerce marketing at Finish Line. “Already, the younger end of this group uses the Internet on mobile far more than PCs.”

Smartphone-toting consumers, regardless of age, have great expectations of web sites when browsing on their devices: they expect sites to be optimized to fit on the smaller screens of smartphones, mobile experts say. This is why Finish Line hired m-commerce technology provider Unbound Commerce to build a mobile site.

“Our first priority was to provide a better experience for our customers who wanted to use mobile for the services our site provides,” says Roger Underwood, senior vice president of e-commerce operations at Finish Line. “‘Pinch and zoom’ isn’t what we were looking for.”

Finish Line from the start viewed a mobile commerce site as a multichannel selling tool: While it could generate sales in the mobile channel, it could also boost sales in the call center and stores, the merchant says.

“We’ve designed mobile to be a sales catalyst for all of our businesses: online, stores and even the call center,” Underwood says.

For example, Unbound Commerce suggested Finish Line, No. 174 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, place a Click-to-Call button on mobile product pages alongside the Add to Cart button. When a consumer touches a Click-to-Call button the smartphone automatically dials a programmed telephone number. “We are very pleased, and even a little surprised, at the value of our mobile site as an on-ramp to our call center,” Underwood says.

But most of Finish Line’s business comes through its chain of 647 stores, which is why Finish Line includes store-oriented features on its m-commerce site. Consumers can use a GPS-based Store Locator to find nearby locations, and use a product review look-up feature to find customer ratings and reviews on products while they are standing in a store considering a product.

In addition to its m-commerce site, Finish Line recently debuted mobile apps for iPhone and Android devices. When it comes to store-oriented features, the apps include real-time store inventory, allowing customers to view which products are in stock at their nearby Finish Line store before they go shopping.

“We’ve only scratched the surface of the potential for mobile,” Seifert says. “The most exciting part is that it provides new opportunities to connect with buyers in new settings. With transactional QR bar codes or text messaging, mobile opens up new ways to let the store come to our buyers.”

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