January 6, 2012, 10:39 AM

Mobile commerce played an integral part of the 2011 holiday season

Retailers are reporting increased mobile traffic and sales.

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Mobile commerce became an increasingly important factor in web retailing during the 2011 holiday season as more retailers saw significant increases in mobile traffic and mobile sales.

IBM, for example, reports 18.3% of all traffic to online retail sites came from a mobile device on Christmas Day, up from 8.4% a year ago. Overall, consumers using mobile devices accounted for 14.4% of the day’s sales, up from 5.3% on Christmas Day a year ago.

The holiday season was quite mobile at Gilt Groupe: 20% of all sales during November and December stemmed from mobile devices.

“Mobile continues to play a large role in driving Gilt’s business,” says a spokeswoman at Gilt Groupe, No. 9 in the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Top 300. “And we continue to utilize mobile as a channel to reach both existing and new customers wherever they are.”

Gilt Groupe declines to give exact figures but reports that mobile traffic and sales increased well over 100% in December 2011 compared with December 2010. Internet Retailer estimates Gilt Groupe mobile sales hit $85 million in 2011.

One strategy that boosted m-commerce at Gilt Groupe was mobile-only promotions, the merchant says. “We held special mobile-exclusive sales on Black Friday for our customers who may have been out shopping and waiting in long lines,” the spokeswoman says.

Crutchfield Corp. also experienced triple-digit growth in traffic and sales during the 2011 holiday season compared with the 2010 holiday season, it reports, but declines to give specific numbers. Internet Retailer estimates Crutchfield mobile sales reached $3.2 million in 2011.

“Mobile was certainly a bright spot this holiday season,” says Todd Cabell, director of e-commerce at Crutchfield, No. 108 in the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Top 300. “It’s clear more and more customers are becoming comfortable using their mobile devices to research and purchase a wide variety of products.”

Cabell gives some of the credit to the redesign of Crutchfield’s m-commerce site in August 2011, saying it performs better than the previous version. He adds that traffic from tablet users increased substantially during the holidays, both to the Crutchfield.com e-commerce site and the Crutchfield Catalog iPad app.

“We anticipate continued growth in both the smartphone and tablet channels during 2012,” he says.

Mobile commerce has been a part of the mix for 1-800-Flowers.com Inc. for years. “Our mobile offering was an integral part of our holiday season again this year,” says Kevin Ranford, vice president of online marketing, mobile and social media at the e-retailer, No. 77 in the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Top 300. He declines to reveal traffic and sales figures. Internet Retailer estimates 1-800-Flowers.com mobile sales hit $7.3 million in 2011.

Like Crutchfield, 1-800-Flowers.com redesigned its m-commerce site in 2011. With the redesign, the e-retailer is selling products via mobile similar to those being sold online.

“For the holiday season, our top-selling products were more in line with those sold on our desktop site, driven primarily by dynamic merchandising enhancements made to our mobile experience, which allow for real-time product catalog updates in sync with any desktop merchandising changes,” Ranford explains.

Overall, Ranford says the redesign was a success with holiday shoppers.

“As a positive result for our holiday mobile shoppers on the go, they enjoyed a more intuitive shopping experience, increased access to similar functionality to that of our desktop experience, and easier ability to find promotional offers they may have seen via our marketing efforts,” he says. “1-800-Flowers.com’s holistic, cross-channel approach to mobile allowed our holiday shoppers to engage with us via e-mail, search, display and other marketing channels in a similar fashion to desktop, fully optimized for mobile.”

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