June 11, 2009, 12:00 AM

Consumers shop differently in m-commerce, and retailers must understand why

Mobile phones are not computers, and as such consumers use them differently. Retailers must first understand these differences to succeed in mobile marketing and merchandising, says 1-800-Flowers.com’s Kevin Ranford, an IRCE M-commerce Workshop speaker.


With the obvious differences between mobile phones and computers come differences in how consumers use the two devices, and what they expect. This is the first factor retailers must consider when planning for mobile marketing and merchandising success, experts say.

“First and foremost, when developing a mobile strategy, you must understand it is a different channel with consumers using it differently based on what they can digest on their phones,” says Kevin Ranford, director of web marketing at 1-800-Flowers.com Inc., a mobile commerce pioneer that offers an m-commerce site, mobile apps for iPhones and BlackBerrys, and text message marketing. “We don’t want mobile shoppers to have to scroll through pages and pages of offers; we want to give them the quickest and most relevant experience. So when you are planning your marketing and merchandising, understand that you need to trim down and streamline your experience.”

Ranford will be sharing the mobile web experiences of 1-800-Flowers.com at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition, June 15-18 in Boston, in a session entitled Achieving success in mobile marketing, merchandising & technology. The online florist and gifts merchant is No. 31 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

When it began planning its m-commerce site, 1-800-Flowers.com understood mobile web shoppers were different from conventional web shoppers in that they want to more quickly find what they’re looking for, Ranford says. As a result, the merchant, for example, greatly focused its product assortment.

“We have hundreds of bouquets and gift baskets. So we work with merchandising on a weekly basis on what we are going to include and exclude on our mobile site,” he explains. “We judge based on various factors, including conversion stats and seasonal best sellers. Then we serve up eight to 10 products per category, putting our best foot forward. You lose a significant amount of real estate going mobile, so you need to make sure the products you choose to offer are the most relevant.”

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