September 15, 2011, 1:37 PM

Customer says ‘I do’ to a $300,000 mobile transaction

Blue Nile proves consumers will buy anything via m-commerce.

Lead Photo

One consumer used the merchant's iPhone app to buy a $300,000 diamond engagement ring.

Who said consumers won’t buy big-ticket products through their mobile phones?

Blue Nile Inc. just sold a diamond engagement ring that cost more than $300,000 via its iPhone app. “While an extraordinary purchase, large jewelry purchases, running from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars, via smartphones happen quite frequently,” says John Baird, director of brand and corporate communications at the online jeweler. “When it comes to diamonds and fine jewelry, Blue Nile’s mobile shopping site and iPhone app are extremely powerful tools.”

Big-ticket purchases are nothing unusual for other retailers, too.

“We send out an e-mail every day and we see customers quickly purchasing those products via their mobile phones on the m-commerce site and through the mobile app,” Neel Grover, president and CEO of Inc., told me last week. “These products will range from a book to a bottle of wine to a several thousand dollar television.”

Further, I was speaking with Todd Cabell, senior manager of e-commerce at Crutchfield Corp., and he says Crutchfield sells via its m-commerce site products that span its offerings, “everything from car subwoofers to 50-inch LCD TVs.”

Some folks in Internet retailing circles have pooh-poohed mobile commerce when it comes to consumers buying items in certain product categories. What they fail to realize is a great many people are doing more web browsing on their smartphones than on their desktop PCs. There’s a sea change happening. It’s already happened in Japan, where studies have shown that for the majority of people, the smartphone is the primary way they access the web. People are shifting their web behaviors from the desktop to the smartphone, and that includes shopping.

My story today on is a perfect example of what’s happening. In 2009, 1% of the apparel retailer’s web traffic was from smartphones. In 2010 it grew to 4% and this year it’s at 8%. And it’s just going to keep going up. Many companies are in the double digits. JetBlue Airways is at 10%. Crutchfield is at 12%. And Fandango is at a whopping 40%.

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you sell, smartphone shoppers are visiting your site, and many more of them are on the way. Are you ready?

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