July 14, 2010, 12:42 PM

Should e-commerce vendors bring m-commerce to the table?

Some merchants expect no less. They say it is the responsibility of an e-commerce vendor.

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By the end of the month, e-commerce technology provider Shopatron Inc. will flip a switch and through its software-as-a-service platform automatically launch m-commerce sites for 610 of its more than 800 clients. However, it first had to inform its clients of the new mobile functionality, as it is something the vendor has been working on since early this year, unbeknown to its clients. It was a surprise, free of charge, that the company says its clients are welcoming with open arms.

In fact, some retailers expect this kind of treatment from their e-commerce vendors.

“One of the reasons we entered into a relationship with Shopatron was for the company as a vendor partner to keep us at the forefront of e-commerce. We expect them as a partner to bring to the table things like mobile commerce,” says Keith Neely, vice president of customer support and information technology at sporting goods and apparel consumer brand manufacturer Mizuno USA, a client of Shopatron that’s going mobile. “People are really adopting and using smartphones. So it’s great to be able to take our e-commerce storefront and make it optimized for mobile without having to do a lot of new development.”

 Shopatron is in the final weeks of testing m-commerce site-building functionality that it is adding to its platform offering at no additional cost to its clients. When consumers using mobile devices running the Apple, Android, BlackBerry or WebOS (Palm) operating systems type in the standard URL of any of the 610 Shopatron client sites (the other more than 190 will follow by fall), they will be automatically redirected to a mobile-optimized version. The new functionality will also work on mobile devices equipped with the Opera Mini mobile web browser.

Like many other retail, travel and ticketing executives, Neely recognizes that many consumers want to access web sites from their mobile phones.

“Mobile commerce is very important to the future of e-commerce,” says Neely. “Consumers are just not willing to walk around with their laptops anymore, they’re doing a lot more than calling with the latest mobile devices. It is very important to have a streamlined storefront that allows you to take the percentage of people coming to your site through mobile devices and give them an experience that will make conversions happen more, and more quickly.”

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