June 1, 2011, 12:23 PM

No m-commerce site? You’re behind the times

Still designing? Some merchants are already redesigning.

Lead Photo

The Catholic Company redesigned its m-commerce site to create a solid mobile experience not just for portrait mode browsing but for landscape mode, as well.

Here’s a great quote: “Last year was the time to get started.” Nicholas Cole, director of marketing at The Catholic Company, made that remark in a discussion we had last week about the state of mobile commerce. Truer words were never spoken. If you don’t have an m-commerce site, you’d better get one up and running fast because consumers are switching to smartphones by the millions and voraciously using the mobile web.

The place most retailers start in mobile commerce, and indeed the best place to start, is not with a mobile app but with an m-commerce site. A site gives you the greatest reach because anyone with a web-enabled mobile phone can access it. Apps are built for specific mobile operating systems and only give you a chunk of the mobile pie (though it may be an important chunk based on your traffic and demographics). An m-commerce site offers familiarity—it looks and functions like an e-commerce site. And more smartphone owners use the mobile web than mobile apps, research shows. So an m-commerce site is the must-have.

Just to show you that last year was the time to get started, The Catholic Company is doing something few retailers in m-commerce have done. While most retailers are still working on designing a site, The Catholic Company has redesigned its site. That really says a lot. And this coming from a small retailer, not one of the giants.

The merchant optimized its site for landscape mode. Not too long ago, smartphones only allowed web browsing in portrait mode. But that all changed last year. Obviously, landscape mode changes the orientation of the page, and in so doing changes what consumers can see on the screen. Text and images were rendering small in landscape mode, so Cole and company made the fonts and images bigger. They made some other changes, as well, but the landscape mode drove the redesign because a drop in mobile sales coincided with landscape browsing capabilities. It said the landscape mode offered a mobile web experience that was not as good as the experience in portrait mode. So the redesign began.

If you’re not already in the game, get a move on. If you build it, they will come.

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