Private investment firm Comvest Partners acquires the financially troubled e-retailer, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March.
Two mobile vendors preview announcements they will make at next week’s show.
Many of the hundreds of technology and services vendors exhibiting at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2013 next week in Chicago will be making announcements at the event about their retail wares. Two mobile commerce technology providers, atmosol and UniteU Technologies Inc., are previewing parts of their IRCE announcements today to Internet Retailer.
Atmosol, an e-commerce and m-commerce technology provider that specializes in Amazon Webstores, next week will formally launch responsive web design sites for Fruit of the Loom Inc. and its subsidiary Russell Athletic. Responsive design is a technique that uses one set of web content and one code base to create a single web site that transforms on the fly to fit the screens of desktop computers, tablets, smartphones and other devices. The sites are located at mshop.Fruit.com and mshop.RussellAthletic.com.
Atmosol used its mComm technology to build both the Fruit of the Loom and Russell Athletic responsive sites. The technology creates a hybrid responsive site sometimes called RESS, which stands for responsive design plus server-side components. In a traditional responsive design site, a server sends to a computer or mobile device a large single file that contains everything needed to build a site optimized in multiple ways, for the desktop, the tablet and the smartphone. The client-side web browser does all the work of rendering the site from that single responsive file.
In contrast, atmosol’s mComm technology stores the responsive file on the server. Once the server detects the device’s screen size, it sends only the responsive files needed to build the site for that device. This speeds page load times, since the server is not sending the larger file that contains everything, and it decreases the time and investment needed to create a responsive site compared with building a traditional responsive site, says Asha Wadher, president of atmosol.
“When using our mComm solution, the retailer and our team save a significant amount of time because we have already created pre-coded, responsive, template-oriented wireframes,” Wadher says. A wireframe is a design tool that presents the structure, content and functions of a web page. “The retailer selects one of these wireframes, and then we are able to apply the retailer’s branding on the template very easily via our control panel. The mComm platform can incorporate most third-party integrations, like Google Analytics and newsletter sign-up forms, as well as customizations from the retailer’s e-commerce site. But retailers are OK with not having many customizations in order to keep the mobile store very simple and thus decrease page load time.”
At new atmosol client Fruit of the Loom, 25% of total traffic stems from mobile devices, the company reports. Fruit of the Loom decided to go the responsive route versus building an m-commerce site for smartphones and a tablet-optimized site because it says responsive design will prepare it well for the future.
“We felt it was best to create a mobile store that was responsive versus investing in separate code per smartphone and tablet devices,” says Gary Rothman, Fruit of the Loom director of e-commerce merchandising and marketing. “With responsive design, it is future-proof in the sense that we don’t have to keep coding for different devices as new devices hit the market. Also, if we want to make any content or branding updates, we just do it once.”
Responsive design is a trend that will come to dominate Internet retailing in the years to come, says Andrew Martineau, vice president of direct to consumer at Fruit of the Loom. Wadher says almost all atmosol clients looking for a responsive design site opt to go with the mComm approach that does most of the work on the server side versus the traditional responsive approach that does most of the work on the client-side.
Atmosol says it costs $20,000 to create a basic responsive design site and up to $100,000 for a site with extensive features and functions. There is no monthly fee, but maintenance and adding new features incur additional charges. The company’s mComm responsive site meanwhile costs $8,000 to set up and a $300 monthly fee to host and maintain the site, which includes unlimited support and new features and functions that are incorporated for free as the company introduces them.
Meanwhile, UniteU Technologies, an e-commerce and m-commerce platform provider, next week will unveil at IRCE uMobile POS, a new point-of-sale hardware and software system for the iPad.
The system comes with the Infinea Tab sled, a piece of hardware that is attached to an iPad. The sled can scan bar codes and swipe credit cards. It connects to the uMobile POS software on the iPad, which handles checkout. The software is designed to link with the UniteU Commerce e-commerce platform.
Store associates can use the new tool to shop with and assist customers, then check them out anywhere in the store, says Mike Montrose, vice president of marketing and business development at UniteU.
“The uMobile POS enables fluid in-store interactions with customers, line-busting and digitally-assisted support for sales personnel, and provides portability for events such as tent sales, demo days, festivals and sporting events,” Montrose says. “It offers fully synchronized inventory with existing systems of record; is fully PCI-compliant and secure, including back-end controls for employee roles and permissions; and is easy to use and requires little training.” PCI compliance refers to the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards—a set of rules created by payment card networks to secure stored and transacted payment card information to protect cardholder data.
The cost per unit ranges from $900 to $1,500 for a one-year license, depending on the number of units purchased. That price includes the iPad.