October 10, 2011, 3:29 PM

Mobile Commerce Forum Report: Two health retailers set off on a mobile journey

GNC and Beachbody know their customers want them to mobilize, but the question is how. 

Lead Photo

David Sims, VP of direct marketing, GNC

General Nutrition Centers Inc. and Beachbody LLC are both in the health business, but both companies readily admit that, at least until recently, their mobile strategies have been under the weather.

David Sims, GNC’s vice president of direct marketing, told attendees at Internet Retailer’s Mobile Commerce Forum 2011 this afternoon that shortly after GNC flipped the switch on a mobile-optimized web site last December, nearly 20% of site traffic came from mobile. The retailer launched an iPhone app in February and is at work on an app for Android users now.

“We’re trying really hard to get you to download the app,” Sims said, as he detailed how GNC spread its ad budget around to market the existence of the app to customers on the web, via e-mail and in its health stores. Sims said GNC exhausted its e-mail database promoting the app and added prominent signs in stores about the app. It also ran search ads for the app, but said he’s still testing and learning what works. “We’re still defining what’s good for us,” he said. GNC is No. 227 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide.

At Beachbody, No. 111, chief information officer Steve Winshel is working on building mobile from the ground up. The company is readying its first mobile-optimized web site for launch the day after Thanksgiving, and is still trying to figure out what elements consumers will want to see on the site. It’s also working on an app. “Our regular site is a pretty miserable experience when viewed on mobile,” he said. He said Beachbody, which sells home exercise videos and health products, like Sims, is in the process of figuring out how to promote the existence of mobile content to consumers.

Still, both retailers say they recognize mobile is important, and research presented by Alia Lamborghini from mobile ad vendor Millennial Media during the panel presentation this afternoon backed that up. She said 13 million consumers accessed retail content via mobile in 2010, up 74% from a year earlier, and that number is certainly higher now. Eight million of those consumers accessed retailer content using the mobile browser on their phones, not a mobile app. “The question is not ‘how’s my app experience?’ but it’s ‘how’s the mobile retail site experience?,’” she said. She said consumers are using the mobile web at every step in the purchase decision process, so retailers need to deliver good experiences all along the purchase path.




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