June 3, 2013, 4:27 PM

An outdoors gear retailer reels in sales with a new mobile commerce site

Wide Open Spaces integrates Unbound Commerce and Magento for its m-commerce site.

Lead Photo

The home page of the flash-sale e-retailer's m-commerce site.

Customers of members-only flash sale e-retailer Wide Open Spaces are often quite far from a PC. They’re hunters and fishermen who like good deals. And they needed a way to keep track of flash sales while in the great outdoors. So Wide Open Spaces built a mobile commerce web site.

“Our customers are avid outdoor sports enthusiasts who spend a great deal of time out in the field,” says Chris Mitchell, co-founder and vice president of engineering. “We wanted a mobile experience to allow them to take advantage of the latest deals and discounts, any time and any location.”

Wide Open Spaces integrated the m-commerce platform of Unbound Commerce with the e-commerce platform of Magento Inc. to create the mobile site. It launched the mobile site in January to test it and is formally announcing the site today. 23% of the e-retailer’s traffic and 17% of its revenue stem from mobile devices, it reports.

Since launching the m-commerce site in January, Wide Open Spaces has discovered that time on site and average order value have stayed roughly the same, but the mobile conversion rate is up and mobile sales have increased 30%. Mitchell was struck by the percentage of mobile traffic stemming from Android smartphones, 41%. 56% of smartphone traffic comes from iPhones and 3% from other types of smartphones. Most retailers today report much a higher share of traffic from iPhones.

“We particularly like our Android stat because I feel it says something different about our members versus many of the other social commerce sites that compete among each other for the same dollar,” Mitchell says. “Many of our members are outside the urban core centers and are less concerned about the social status applied to owning an iPhone.”

Using application programming interfaces, or APIs, Unbound Commerce integrated with the Magento platform at the data and services levels, not the HTML level, so that the mobile site would not be married to the look and feel of the desktop site. Wide Open Spaces declines to reveal the cost of the mobile site. Unbound Commerce says the cost to build an m-commerce site varies widely; among its nearly 400 retailer clients are small Yahoo Stores merchants and large retail chains. The vendor says a typical m-commerce site build for a midsized retailer costs around $35,000 with a $500 monthly fee.

Wide Open Spaces offers more than a dozen flash sales every day.

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