October 2, 2013, 12:56 PM

Small but mighty mobile

The small e-retailers in the new Mobile 500 grow faster than larger merchants.

Lead Photo

The smaller North American e-retailers ranked in this year’s Internet Retailer Mobile 500—the ones that also appear in the Second 500 Guide—will bring in nowhere near as much mobile commerce revenue this year as their larger competitors that also appear in the Top 500 Guide. (The Top 500 ranks the 500 leading North American retailers by online sales; the Second 500 ranks Nos. 501-1000.)

However, a large number of these smaller merchants are putting a priority on reaching mobile consumers, and 71 of them are ranked among the leaders in mobile commerce. Many are using in-house developers to build out their mobile offerings, and some are bringing in millions of dollars in sales from smartphones and tablets this year. Moreover, as a group, they are growing their mobile sales a lot faster than the entire Mobile 500.

The 71 Second 500 merchants in the Mobile 500 are on track to bring in a combined total of $104.2 million in mobile commerce sales this year, up 132.5% compared with $44.8 million last year for these retailers. That’s only 0.34% of the total sales of the Mobile 500 ($30.91 billion), but it’s nearly double the growth of the entire Mobile 500, which is on track to increase mobile sales 72.3% this year from $17.94 billion last year.

Some of the faster-growing but smaller merchants like auto parts e-retailer RealTruck.com and beauty products maker and online merchant LovelySkin.com say they focus on simplicity, as opposed to advanced functionality or fancy designs, when it comes to their mobile sites. Their budgets for mobile are limited, they say, but they realize that an increasing number of their customers are shopping via mobile devices, so they had to make mobile a priority.

RealTruck.com, No. 304, for example, launched its mobile site in 2011. The merchant is on track to bring in $4.5 million in mobile sales this year, up 275% from $1.2 million last year. Two-thirds of those sales will be derived from tablet shoppers, says marketing manager Clay Kraby. “We really tried to concentrate on the mobile user’s experience and expectations, and came to the conclusion that our mobile visitors have high expectations on great quality content and quick load times,” he says. “This made it very easy to focus on simplicity and ease of use. Anything that was not essential was left out.”

Creating an uncomplicated mobile site that was easy to use was also important for LovelySkin.com, No. 322. The merchant, which built its mobile-optimized site in-house in 2011, is on track to bring in $3.9 million in mobile sales this year, up 156.3% from $1.5 million last year. “We just wanted to make something that was simple and effective, and it seems to have resonated with our customer base,” says president Joel Schlessinger.

More data and analysis on how merchants around the world are launching or expanding their mobile commerce programs is available in the 2014 Mobile 500. The research publication is available in three formats: print, digital and as part of the all-new and completely updated Top500Guide.com. Information on how to order is available here.

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