May 14, 2007, 12:00 AM

A mobile mini-mall: Can you dig it?

30 Second Software’s Digby, a miniature Internet shopping mall designed for access initially by Blackberry users, sets its sights on on-the-go shoppers.

This is how one industry player sums up m-commerce. “Using a browser on a phone can be painful. At the same time, we are seeing an explosion in the use of high-end phones as people who are on the go are looking to do more with their phones, including make purchases. But if it takes them more than a minute to complete a transaction, they won’t do it.”

So says Steve Slezak, marketing director at 30 Second Software, which operates Digby, a miniature Internet shopping mall designed for access initially by Blackberry users. The m-commerce technology and services vendor aims to simplify the m-commerce process and make it more inviting for consumers to make purchases via mobile communications devices. It created Digby with an eye on substantially reducing the level of complexity associated with completing an online purchase, reducing it to a 30-second transaction.

Browsing through the mini-mall, shoppers find merchandise in 13 categories, with one or two retailers in each category. Digby offers mostly gift-oriented products. Shops include Godiva Chocolatier, FTD Florist (No. 50 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide), Vermont Teddy Bear (No. 177) and Capalbo’s Gift Baskets.

Digby, currently accessible only via Blackberry devices (the company plans to expand hardware options), sets its sights on the fast set that talk on their phones or text message as they conduct personal or professional business. With Digby, the m-commerce technology vendor takes information gathered when customers register to use the service and integrates it with data already stored in their Blackberrys.

For example, customers register their credit card information and addresses so information does not have to be entered again when making purchases. And if customers want to send a gift, rather than typing in the recipient’s name and address, the purchaser can instruct the program to get recipients’ information from the Blackberry’s address book.

While the initial push by Digby is on gift and impulse buys, mini-mall executives believe the concept can be extended to other products. Slezak says take-out restaurant chains such as pizza outlets are good immediate prospects to add. And in time, he believes a whole range of products, including clothing and other nonperishable items, can be sold on the device.

Still, that could be a while away. For now, market observers are watching to see whether there are enough consumers out there who want and need to make those impulse buys from their Blackberrys and whether Digby can successfully get the word out.

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