Private investment firm Comvest Partners acquires the financially troubled e-retailer, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March.
Comparing online commerce activity at 18 retailer clients of m-commerce platform provider Branding Brand between March 2013 and March 2014, smartphone visits are up 101%, orders placed on smartphones up 130%, and sales stemming from smartphones up 168%. And Branding Brand has launched a new m-commerce site for web-only retailer Vitacost.com.
Online shoppers are fleeing their desktop PCs in droves, moving quite a bit of their Internet shopping to mobile devices, finds mobile commerce platform provider Branding Brand in a study of 18 of its retailer clients. Comparing March 2014 with March 2013, traffic from shoppers on smartphones to the 18 merchants is up 43% year over year while traffic from shoppers on desktop PCs is down 21%, the vendor finds. Traffic is measured as the number of unique monthly visitors.
The total number of smartphone visits, including multiple visits by the same person, jumped 101.2% to 20,129,855 in March 2014 from 10,003,472 in March 2013; smartphone orders rose 129.6% to 135,640 from 59,080, and sales on smartphones jumped 168.3% to $15,106,324 from $5,630,325, Branding Brand reports. The 18 merchants sell merchandise in various product categories, including apparel, health and beauty, and home goods.
And as is the case virtually everywhere in mobile commerce, devices running Apple Inc.'s iOS mobile operating system trounced devices running Google Inc.'s Android. In March 2014, 62.9% of smartphone traffic came from Apple iPhones and 36.4% from Android smartphones, Branding Brand finds. Smartphones running other mobile operating systems including Microsoft Windows and BlackBerry accounted for a measly 0.7% of traffic.
“Not only are customers shopping more on their phones, they’re also spending,” says Chris Mason, Branding Brand co-founder and CEO. “Our data shows large numbers of consumers rapidly embracing mobile as a fundamental tool to conveniently connect with retailers.”
Branding Brand has built mobile commerce sites and apps for more than 200 retailers, including American Eagle Outfitters Inc., Crate & Barrel, Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. and Sephora USA Inc.
Last month, Branding Brand added a new client to its roster—the e-retailing heavy hitter Vitacost.com Inc., which places in the top 100 of both the 2013 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide and the 2014 Internet Retailer Mobile 500. Branding Brand built the vitamins and supplements e-retailer an m-commerce site for smartphones, replacing a previous m-commerce site built by another vendor, which Vitacost.com declines to name. Branding Brand currently is working on iPhone and Android smartphone apps for the web-only retailer. A tablet-optimized site will follow.
"We chose Branding Brand because they are incredibly agile; they have good thought leadership in this space that converts quickly to practicality; the mix of their resources to ours is culturally strong, i.e., we have good simpatico; and they have solid business integrity, doing what they say, when they say it," says Jay Topper, chief information officer and chief technology officer at Vitacost.com.
The e-retailer and the vendor decline to reveal the costs to build the sites and apps, but Branding Brand says both sites and apps for both smartphones and tablets start around $50,000, and that pricing is based on a retailer's traffic. Branding Brand adds that its prices are based on the volume of work, so retailers can benefit by choosing to build multiple sites and apps.