September 3, 2010, 1:51 PM

For mobile, simpler is better—but only at first

The looming holiday season puts pressure on retailers to serve mobile shoppers.

Lead Photo

Kenneth Cole needed to quickly develop a mobile site

In April, Tom Davis, vice president of e-commerce at Kenneth Cole, decided to dig into his e-commerce analytics data to check activity occurring on mobile devices. What he discovered startled him: 1.5% of the apparel and accessories retailer’s revenue was coming from shoppers buying via the Kenneth Cole e-commerce site on a mobile phone.

“To get our site working on an iPhone is a mess,” Davis says, “so for people to go through the whole ordering process on their iPhone, that’s big.”

Davis moved quickly to create a version of the site optimized for shoppers using their phones. “We needed a mobile site up in 2010—only an act of God would stop me from doing this,” he says.



Working with mobile commerce technology provider Usablenet Inc., Kenneth Cole launched its m-commerce site in July and now offers shoppers who type in the merchant’s URL a site experience much easier than that of accessing the conventional e-commerce site on a phone.

Davis spoke about Kenneth Cole’s m-commerce strategy and how mobile commerce can be leveraged in the 2010 holiday season in his keynote address Thursday in New York at the Mobile Marketing Summit. Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. is No. 402 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

With the 2010 holiday season looming, many merchants are wondering where mobile fits into their marketing and selling strategies. Davis says the single most important goal for merchants is to become familiar with m-commerce and understand what it can do for them.

“It’s all about learning what people are doing,” he says. “You need to use the data from this six-week period this year to plan a mobile commerce strategy for 2011 and 2012. The mobile landscape is going to change so fast that I am hesitant to drop a lot of investment in it this year. But you will benefit by having a solution out there and getting on the wave now.”

During a panel discussion later in the day, Forrester Research Inc. analyst Patti Freeman Evans urged retailers to concentrate first on relatively simple mobile efforts.  

“Simple, clean and good is good for a mobile experience this year—but not next year,” she says. “This year you have to learn who your mobile customer is, what devices they are using and how they are behaving. Then you can learn so you can set a mobile strategy and figure out how to execute that strategy.”

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