June 29, 2009, 12:00 AM

One customer’s husband alters the e-retailing landscape at Delight.com

While talking with consumers about m-commerce, and finding customers were armed with iPhones, Delight.com received an interesting offer: one customer twisted her I.T. pro husband’s arm and got him to build the merchant an iPhone app for free.

The two partners who run gift retailer Delight.com are mobile technology enthusiasts-one has a BlackBerry smartphone, the other an Apple iPhone. They began to see that mobile technology could have an impact on the way people shop and decided to ask their customers what they thought. So they conducted post-sale surveys and discussions on the merchant’s Facebook page.

“Our customers told us they are very much out and about and they are more likely to have a smartphone in their hands than a computer in front of them. And we found that our customers overwhelmingly used iPhones,” said Lynda Keeler, co-founder of Delight.com, at the M-commerce Workshop at the 2009 Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition this month in Boston. “So we knew then that we needed to develop an appropriate presence for iPhones.”

Then Dame Fortune stepped in and blessed Delight.com. One of the customers who gave feedback on mobile shopping convinced her I.T. pro husband to donate his time to make a Delight.com mobile app. Keeler and company took him up on the offer.

Today, 4,000 app downloads later, Delight.com is paying the hubby to enhance the application to include complete sales transaction functionality, a major step in the just budding world of retail mobile apps. A mobile “app” is a small application that resides on a consumer’s phone and that takes advantage of the PC-like power of iPhones and similar smartphones, making a mobile transaction richer and faster than it would be if the user had to go back and forth to a mobile web site for data.

Delight.com is on the right track, added co-speaker Dave Sikora, CEO of retail mobile app builder Digby. Why? Just look at the billion downloads at Apple’s mega-popular App Store, he said.

“The App Store,” he added, “has absolutely validated the way in which consumers want to interact with their smartphones and business in the mobile realm.”

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