September 27, 2011, 12:47 PM

Moosejaw sees a site-less future for mobile commerce

Retailer tailors conventional web site to mobile devices, seeking greater consistency.

Lead Photo

The retailer is phasing out its dedicated m-commerce site (above) in favor of a mobile-optimized version of its e-commerce site.

Outdoor gear retailer Moosejaw Mountaineering plans to phase out its mobile commerce site and instead present mobile consumers with a version of its conventional e-commerce site tailored to their devices.

The new version of Moosejaw.com will go live next week, says Eoin Comerford, senior vice president of marketing and technology at the retail chain and web merchant. The site will recognize the browser the consumer is using and tailor the site to render properly in that browser window.

Thus, whereas on the product page the image appears on the left and the name of the item and color and size choices on the right, the mobile version will show the product name first, followed by the image taking up the full width of the screen and color and size choices below.

There are several advantages to this approach, Comerford says. For example, when consumers open e-mails on their mobile phones or tablet computers they’ll be able to click to buy the product and any promotional code in the e-mail will be sure to work. With a separate mobile site, Comerford says, a consumer who opens an e-mail, then tries to type the promo code into the checkout page at m.Moosejaw.com may not always get the proper discount.

This is especially important, he says, because so many of Moosejaw’s customers are opening e-mails on mobile devices. In a recent survey of more than 7,000 Moosejaw customers, 37.2% said they always opened e-mails from Moosejaw on a smartphone, 23.4% said often and 8.2% sometimes. Plus, 7.5% said they always open Moosejaw e-mails on tablet computers, such as Apple Inc.’s iPad, 7.9% said often and 6.8% sometimes.

Another advantage is that by showing all shoppers the same site the current inventory will be shown to all, and Moosejaw will not take orders for items that have sold out. The mobile site’s inventory is only updated once a day, Comerford says, and an e-mail driving demand for a new product could result in the product selling out before that’s reflected on the mobile site.

“We’re trying to get away from all that,” Comerford says. “When you open that e-mail, you’ll be going to the regular site but on a mobile phone it will look better, the promo codes will be right and the inventory will be there.” Moosejaw is accomplishing this using Cascading Style Sheets, the web language that controls the presentation of a web page; once the site recognizes the browser, it will select the CSS file that will make the page render properly on that browser. While not using HTML5 to build the entire site, Moosejaw is using the latest version of HTML to replace Flash on its site, because mobile Apple devices like the iPhone and iPad do not render Flash.

This approach fits with the growing blurring of channels in the consumer’s mind, Comerford says. “Consumers expect to be able to buy something from you at the store down the street, from your mobile site, regular site or catalog, and do it the same way with the same promos,” he says. He adds that Moosejaw has not set a date for phasing out m.Moosejaw.com, and will take some time tweaking the mobile-optimized version of its web site before turning off the mobile site.

Moosejaw is also making another investment with mobile shoppers in mind. The retailer will start accepting PayPal in the fourth quarter, largely because it’s easier for consumers registered with PayPal to pay that way on mobile devices, as their payment information and shipping address is already stored in their PayPal account, Comerford says.  It may also appeal to some consumers concerned about the security of entering a credit card number into a mobile phone, he says.

“With the increase in mobile commerce the easier payment process offered by PayPal is really going to be a requirement for many mobile commerce customers,” Comerford says. He says the price of integrating PayPal into Moosejaw.com—which he estimates as in the mid-tens of thousands of dollars—had deterred Moosejaw from offering the eBay Inc.-owned payment service previously. But the growing importance of mobile shopping, he says, led the retailer to decide to offer PayPal.

Moosejaw, which has had a mobile site since 2006 and a mobile site geared to smartphones since 2009, is No. 252 in the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Top 300; the retailer is also No. 281 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

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