Live from Internet Retailer: Is Your Customer Right For Mobile Commerce?

Jun 13, 2008 10:48 PM  By

Chicago– No one is saying that merchants must launch mobile commerce applications because it was a matter of life or death. But the overall message, at least at a June 12 session at the Internet Retailer Conference and Expo, was that m-commerce is something worth trying.

“You can launch a mobile channel, but don’t expect your entire audience to flock to it overnight,” said Vidya L. Drego, an analyst with Forrester Research.

Although that is what happened with Moosejaw Mountaineering, an outdoor merchant that skews to a younger audience than, say, American Eagle and L.L. Bean. And its mobile customers are very receptive to the channel, said Gary Wohlfeill, executive vice president of marketing at Moosejaw.

Though it does allow customers to purchase – and use PayPal – on their smartphones, Moosejaw has also been able to foster loyalty through its text message program. It once sent a text to its customers telling them to reply back with a text that says “Wang City” and they would get 112 additional Moosejaw points: The response rate was 51%.

While Moosejaw’s young audience suggests a reason for its early adoption of the channel, 1-800-Flowers.com’s ultimate goal with mobile commerce was to generate a younger group of buyers, says its senior director of Web merchandising Vibhav Prasad. The average age of the 1-800-Flowers.com buyer is 43.

The floral gifts merchant, which launched 1800flowers.mobi about a year ago, had a hard time getting its mobile shop up and running with text-to-win campaigns and banner ads. But when it engaged in social networking–and allowed Facebook and MySpace users to send virtual flowers to their friends’ phones–1-800-Flowers.com was able to “speak” to a younger crowd.