Nerds, geeks and everyday consumers looking for an unusual gadget or toy on ThinkGeek Inc.’s e-commerce site no longer have to hunt down a computer to browse and buy. Now, whenever the impulse strikes to buy an item, a consumer simply can point his mobile phone browser to ThinkGeek’s new mobile commerce site.
Developed in-house, the site features an easy-to-find shopping cart button in the top right corner with a search box immediately below. A hero shot—featuring Star Wars merchandise this week—sits in the middle, followed by buttons for What’s New, ThinkGeek Exclusives and Clearance merchandise. Scrolling to the bottom of the m-commerce home page reveals buttons for product categories.
"Mobile is a key strategic channel for every e-commerce company," says Jamie Grove, ThinkGeek vice president of marketing. "But the real competitive advantage in mobile is owning the experience from front to back so that you can react quickly to new trends. We hit that objective, and we couldn't be happier about delivering an awesome mobile experience to our customers."
Developing the m-commerce site in-house was not much of a stretch for ThinkGeek because of its staff expertise, Grove says. “Our entire back end is custom designed, so development really is in our bones,” he explains.
The project took about six months, with the first few months focused on research, such as usage trends among consumers visiting ThinkGeek.com, industry trends and competitive analyses of other retailer sites.
“When we took all of this information into consideration, it became clear that mobile was of such long-term strategic importance that we had to own it end to end,” Grove says. “In addition, we knew our core customers would expect us to do it.”
One readily apparent benefit of the in-house development path is that ThinkGeek can set its own update timetable, he says. “We know more about what's happening and we can react accordingly without waiting for a feature to end up on a vendor's release cycle.”
ThinkGeek is No. 192 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.