March 22, 2013, 10:01 AM

A fork in the mobile commerce road

An IRCE speaker discusses which path to travel: mobile site or mobile app.

The question is almost as old as mobile commerce itself. Which to build, or, if there are enough resources, which to build first: An m-commerce site or a mobile app?

An m-commerce site gives a retailer scope because the site can be accessed by any smartphone with a mobile web browser, which is all of them. A mobile app, however, can provide a richer mobile shopping experience because it resides on the smartphone and can connect with any of the device’s features and functions. The downside to an app, though, is it is only accessible by devices running the mobile operating system for which the app was developed.

Cam Fortin, senior director of product development at Inc., will discuss the benefits and hurdles of both approaches at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2013 on June 7 at 1:30 p.m. in a session entitled “M-Sites Vs. Apps: When Does a Site Work and When is an App the Better Approach?

“As mobile usage and traffic grow, more and more retailers are struggling with this question,” Fortin says. “Depending on your business objectives you may choose one over the other. But for most retailers a cohesive experience across all channels and devices should trump the ‘cool factor,’ which usually means nailing the m-dot site first and then going after apps.” has both an m-commerce site and a smartphone app. Fortin will offer a look at what it takes to develop both, and when a site or an app might be the better approach for a merchant.

“Attendees will learn how to frame the mobile site versus app question, as well as learn the relative pros and cons of each,” Fortin says. “I’ll also explain how our mobile commerce strategy has changed over the past few years and hopefully help some retailers avoid making some of the mistakes we made along the way.”

Internet Retailer editors asked Fortin to speak because as the director of business development at for more than three years, he is responsible for the online retailer’s search engine marketing and optimization, customer and web analytics, and mobile product development. He also is responsible for growing the recently launched wine flash-sale site Fortin began his career at Bain and Co. as a management consultant.

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