Cat5 Commerce optimizes its 10 e-commerce stores for m-commerce

More than a fifth of the business’ web traffic comes from smartphones.

Amy Dusto

Web-only specialty retailer Cat5 Commerce has launched smartphone-optimized sites for each of its 10 e-commerce stores, which include RunningShoes.com, MilitaryGear.com and HikingBoots.com.

“It’s been on our road map for many months, but given the dramatic growth of smartphone traffic over the past 12 months, we were forced to prioritize it in advance of this year’s holiday season,” says Andrew Hoefener, Cat5 Commerce’s chief operating officer. Smartphone traffic grew from about 10% of the company’s total traffic to 21% in the last year, he says. The company’s desktop sites are already optimized for tablets, he adds, which account for 12% of total traffic.

The 10 smartphone sites all run off the same code base, allowing Cat5 Commerce to roll them out simultaneously, Hoefener says. They share the same layout and icon-based navigation. At the top is the store logo, a shopping cart icon, and what designers call the “ham burger” icon (three horizontal parallel lines, the bottom and top lines being the “bun” and the center line being the “burger”). Touching the hamburger icon displays a drop-down menu for navigation by categories such as Men’s, Women’s, Brands and Clearance. The hamburger icon increases the amount of information that can be displayed without a page refresh.

Below those three elements is a large site search bar. In the center are two small, touch-sensitive images promoting the web sites’ free shipping and return policies, both above a large hero image. “Where possible, we tried to introduce mobile niceties, such as popping out the numeric keypad on fields like credit card, phone number and ZIP code,” Hoefener says. Offering alternative keyboards is a feature of HTML5, an advanced programming language.

The sites also feature one-page checkout, a simplified version of the four-page checkout on desktop. “We reduced the number of steps it takes for a customer to place an order, which makes the mobile experience much more enjoyable,” says Jacob Grass, lead developer at Cat5 Commerce. Depending on how well mobile shoppers respond to the shortened checkout, the company says it might roll out one-page checkouts for the desktop sites, too. While it’s still too early to tell, Hoefener says the early results seem promising, and he expects to see a significant increase in mobile conversion rates in time.

Cat5 Commerce had a budget in “the low six-figures” for the smartphone sites, Hoefener says. It builds all its e-commerce and m-commerce technologies in-house. “It’s one of the benefits of having an amazing development staff as part of our team,” he says.

Cat5 Commerce is No. 502 in Internet Retailer’s 2013 Second 500 Guide.


2013 Second 500, Andrew Hoefener, Cat5 Commerce, hikingboots.com, HTML5, Jacob Grass, m-commerce, MilitaryGear.com, Mobile, mobile commerce, Mobile technology, mobile web site, RunningShoes.com, smartphones