January 29, 2010, 12:00 AM

Wet Seal and Overstock expand their mobile commerce offerings

The Wet Seal, an apparel retailer catering to young women, has launched a mobile-optimized version of its e-commerce site, and mass merchant Overstock.com has introduced a fully transactional iPhone app.

A good number of retailers selling through mobile phones operate both an m-commerce site and app—add The Wet Seal and Overstock.com Inc. to the list of retailers going big in the small channel.

The Wet Seal`s demographic is 15- to 25-year-old females, the kind of consumer who is connected to her mobile phone 24/7. That makes mobile commerce a good bet, and Wet Seal has expanded its mobile offerings to exploit the opportunity.

In its latest move, the multichannel retailer has launched a mobile-optimized version of its e-commerce site; consumers enter the e-commerce URL on a mobile phone and are automatically redirected to the m-commerce site. The site joins a mobile app and text messaging program.

"Our demographic is perfect for mobile. They`re on the phone all day long," says Jon Kosoff, director of e-commerce and direct marketing. "Also, from our web data we see customers migrating to accessing our site via mobile phones."

M-commerce technology vendor Digby built the site, which enables consumers to browse, search and buy products.

Shift to the iPhone
Meanwhile, Overstock.com has unveiled a fully transactional iPhone app designed to reach out to the ever-increasing number of iPhone users coming to its e-commerce site. The app expands the e-retailer`s mobile channel, which includes an 18-month-old m-commerce site, Mobile.Overstock.com, and a text messaging program.

"It`s clear that mobile apps are not fringe and not a fad, and that their use is going to expand," says CEO Patrick Byrne. "To be a contender in mobile commerce you have to have an app."

Overstock.com`s app, built in-house, features large graphical pages, shop by department, product detail pages with links to product descriptions and customer reviews, and the ability to e-mail product pages to friends. The checkout process is sped along by enabling registered Overstock.com customers to log in using their e-commerce credentials so they can use payment and shipping information stored in their accounts.

The highlight of the app, though, Overstock says, is its Lott-O lottery game. The game displays a screen that is completely gray and resembles the surface of a scratch-off instant lottery ticket. A mobile shopper wipes his finger across the screen to "scratch" away the surface to see if he won a prize. The e-retailer says shoppers are almost certain to at least win free shipping, and some will receive discounts. Shoppers can play Lott-O once a day.


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