The mobile 10

The increasingly mobile consumer.

Bill Siwicki

Mobile commerce in the United States will grow nearly 63% in 2013 to around $34.2 billion from $21 billion in 2012, according to Internet Retailer's 2014 Mobile 500. That 2013 figure includes the combined sales of $25.4 billion of U.S. merchants ranked in the Mobile 500 and an estimated $8.8 billion in U.S. merchandise sales on eBay.

What's more, 55% of time spent with online retailers in June 2013 occurred on mobile devices, finds web measurement firm comScore Inc. That means mobile has become the predominant way consumers interact with e-retailers.

This year's 10 hot mobile retailers have responded to the increasingly mobile consumer with hot new features and designs for their m-commerce web sites and apps, along with helpful in-store mobile device deployments.

E-retailer Vitacost.com Inc., for example, created a tablet-optimized site that looks and functions like an app, with products in tiles that slide across the screen and drag and drop into a shopping cart.

Meanwhile, W.W. Grainger Inc., B&H Foto & Electronics Corp. and One Kings Lane all debuted stunning tablet apps in 2013 designed to make the most of the devices and their capabilities. For example, B&H loaded its universal iOS app with the highest-resolution images to make full use of Apple Inc. devices' high-resolution Retina displays. Consumers can zoom in to see a mind-boggling level of detail.

These retailers know they have to make it easy for tablet shoppers to shop. On average, 55% of mobile commerce sales occur on tablets while 45% stem from smartphones, according to data from 43 retailers that broke out their mobile sales figures by device in the Mobile 500. At 2.63%, the conversion rate on tablets for the 43 retailers is almost three times higher than the smartphone conversion rate, 0.99%.

Some merchants among this year's 10 hot mobile retailers are pioneering a relatively new approach to pleasing consumers regardless of the device they use. It's called responsive design, and it means adapting the way a web site displays to fit the screen the consumer is using. While 459 retailers in the Mobile 500 have a smartphone-optimized m-commerce site and 34 retailers a tablet-optimized site, only 39 retailers boast a responsive design site that adapts its display to the size of the screen—computer, smartphone, tablet or even TV.

Since e-retailer Skinny Ties launched its responsive site in 2012, its desktop sales jumped 99%, tablet sales soared 190% and smartphones sales rose 231%. One of the keys to the retailer's success was adopting a mobile-first philosophy; it designed for the smartphones' small screens first, then working on tablets, followed by desktops, letting the constraints of mobile guide an efficient and easy design.

Retailers need look no further than this year's 10 hot mobile retailers for how to successfully serve the mostly mobile consumer.

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2013 December magazine, 2014 Hot 100, B&H Photo, jackthreads.com, m-commerce, mobile commerce, responsive design, Skinny Ties, W.W. Grainger