February 23, 2010, 12:00 AM

In m-commerce, starting with a site offers the greatest reach, says exec

Mobile apps are written for specific smartphones, which means they can be used only by a portion of users. Sites can be read by any phone with a mobile browser, explains Kevin Ranford, who will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition.

There are three major elements of mobile commerce: sites, apps and texts. All three offer benefits to e-retailers. The question is, where to start?

Kevin Ranford, 1-800-Flowers.com Inc.’s director of web marketing who leads the merchant’s new and emerging channels, including m-commerce, suggests a site because it offers a broader reach than mobile apps, which are custom-written for specific brands of smartphones. Ranford is speaking during the mobile commerce workshop at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition, June 8-11 in Chicago, in a session entitled Sites, apps, texts: Where to start, what to do and when to do it.

“The mobile channel has shown significant growth with broad consumer adoption,” Ranford says. “You need a broad mobile strategy optimizing shopping for a wide array of mobile devices.” Starting with a site gives a retailer great initial breadth since a site can be accessed via any mobile phone with a mobile browser, he adds.

1-800-Flowers.com, No. 31 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, launched an m-commerce site more than four years ago. It then began marketing via text message more than two years ago. It followed that with mobile apps: one for the BlackBerry two years ago, one for the iPhone one-and-a-half years ago and one for the Android six months ago.

For e-retailers without a mobile commerce presence, Ranford says the time is now.

“Get to market, and continually evolve and optimize in the channel,” he says. “And merchandise to the mobile-specific experience. These are keys to success.”

Why the editors asked Kevin Ranford to speak
Kevin Ranford has 15 years experience in multichannel marketing. He held senior marketing positions at Jupiter Research and ProFlowers before joining 1-800-Flowers.com. As director of web marketing, Ranford is the strategic lead on new and emerging channels, including mobile commerce, social media and online video. He has brought his strategic insights and forward thinking to previous Internet Retailer Conferences.

Full details about the conference and registration information are available at IRCE2010.com.

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