Some retailers launched online deals well in advance of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
MShopper tomorrow will introduce an m-commerce platform that includes a text message marketing tool.
Another technology provider is throwing its hat into the mobile commerce ring. The provider, mShopper, tomorrow will unveil its flagship product, the Mobile Commerce Platform, a software-as-a-service system targeting retailers looking to outsource the creation and maintenance of an m-commerce site.
The system is self-serve. A merchant can go to mShopper’s site and begin the process of building an m-commerce site. The merchant creates an account with billing information, adds a link to its product data feed, selects items to spotlight as featured products, and customizes text, colors and banners. MShopper then sends the merchant code to add to its e-commerce site that redirects consumers on mobile phones entering the standard web site address to the m-commerce site.
To complete a purchase on the m-commerce site, first-time buyers must create an account in an encrypted process that includes entering shipping and payment information. Once an account is created, returning customers need only enter their phone number and a PIN to complete a purchase.
The technology provider is highlighting a special feature of its Mobile Commerce Platform. Dubbed GetFirstDibs, this feature enables consumers to enter their mobile phone number, select product categories of interest, and receive text message alerts when new or special products are featured on a merchant’s site. The text messages include links to landing pages on the m-commerce site showcasing a product.
“GetFirstDibs’ real value is in personalized, repetitive branding and driving sustainable traffic to our merchants’ mobile stores,” mShopper CEO David Gould says. “People receive multiple alerts over weeks and months and when that real moment of ‘mobile need’ strikes, your brand is at the top of their mind. And because GetFirstDibs is delivered via a highly personal device—the smartphone—and only to consumers who have requested contact, it allows retailers to build close, meaningful relationships with their shoppers.”
Multichannel furniture retailer Carolina Rustica was in beta testing with mShopper and is now up and running—and getting sales.
“We’ve been using the GetFirstDibs feature where we send texts to our customers, and our very first one resulted in a sale,” says Chris Knollmeyer, I.T. specialist. “We continue to send out weekly deals exclusively for our mobile customers so they can get special deals and not just what everyone else gets.”
The platform offering also includes search engine optimization and mobile web analytics components. The system costs $99 a month for retailers with less than 100,000 unique monthly visitors, $499 a month for 100,000 to 1 million unique monthly visitors, and $999 a month for more than 1 million unique monthly visitors. MShopper also charges a per-transaction commission of 5% or the published standard affiliate rate, which is the percentage fee that affiliates receive from sales driven from an affiliate site to an e-commerce site. Text messages cost one cent apiece for 100,000 or more a month and one-and-a-half cents apiece for less than 100,000.
MShopper has had 12 retailer clients in beta testing, including Beach Camera, Carolina Rustica, Smart Momma and Surfside Sports. To expand its client base, mShopper is in discussions with a variety of e-retailing technology and services providers to form partnerships. Its first partner is MerchantAdvantage, which repurposes retailers’ product data feeds for comparison shopping engines and affiliate networks. MShopper says it is in discussions with other companies, including affiliate networks Commission Junction and LinkShare, and comparison shopping sites Pricegrabber and Shop.com.
“Our growth will happen through our partnerships, through their existing Internet retailers that want to extend their services and provide their customers with a mobile presence,” says Kathryn Wardell, vice president of merchant service and sales at mShopper. “We should have several hundred retailer clients by Q1 2011.”