July 2, 2012, 4:27 PM

ShopNBC.com targets more app-like features in its mobile site update

The retailer wants a uniform mobile user experience across its mobile site and apps.

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TV retailer ShopNBC.com’s success last year in providing a live television feed of current sales to smartphone and tablet users relied heavily on HTML5, a programming language that more retailers are trying out even as it is still being developed. So when the retailer decided to update its mobile site with more app-like features it again turned to HTML5.

The advantage of HTML5 is clear, says Tom Kraus, ShopNBC vice president of content and commerce. “It gives our customers native app-like functionality on our mobile commerce site,” Kraus says. Among the functions enabled by HTML5 on an m-commerce site are expanding-and-collapsing menus, high-resolution images and scrolling promotions.

Having used HTML5 to get its live video streaming onto its mobile site, ShopNBC now is in the midst of updating the site with additional HMTL5 functionality, relying on mobile commerce technology provider Usablenet Inc. The goal is to complete the project in early September, Kraus says. When done, ShopNBC’s m-commerce site and apps will look and function much the same, Kraus says.

The updated site also should load faster than the current m-commerce site, he says. HTML5 can improve the page load times of mobile web sites, he says, by caching data within the mobile browser on the phone to speed page load times. Native apps—those written in programming code uniquely for the mobile device’s operating system—typically load faster than m-commerce sites, he says.

Making HTML5 the backbone for its m-commerce efforts also means less work trying to get the site to look the same across mobile operating systems, Kraus says. “It seems like it works on 99% of everything.” Because HTML5 is a universal programming language sites relying on it do not need to be adapted for each mobile operating system, he says.

The m-commerce site update is due, Kraus says. Not only is the retailer’s mobile site more than two years old, ShopNBC’s mobile traffic continues to grow. “If I include tablets in the equation, our mobile business is increasing two to three times year over year,” Kraus says. He declined to disclose traffic or sales figures.

“My projection is that by December more than 10% of our overall revenue will come from mobile and tablet devices. That’s total company revenue.” ShopNBC’s online sales totaled $249.6 million in 2011, according to the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. ShopNBC is No. 64 in the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Top 300 and No. 91 in the Top 500 Guide.

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