Catalog merchants have been slow to adapt mobile marketing technology, but 1-800-Flowers.com has taken the plunge. It has launched 1800flowers.mobi, which allows users to shop online at 1-800-Flowers.com via their cell phones.
Internet-enabled mobile device users will be able to shop a “mobile-friendly version of our Website,” says Steve Liu, senior manager, Web marketing for the gifts, toys and home decor marketer. And if a customer has an existing account with the merchant, she can access it through the 1800flowers.mobi site and check an order’s status.
Wireless application protocol technology, which supports development of Web-based applications that run over wireless networks, has been around for years. But “various constraints with mobile devices, carriers, and mobile sites interfaces have delayed widespread adoption here in the United States,” Liu says.
1-800-Flowers.com, which Liu notes helped pioneer toll-free telephone retailing in the 1980s and was among the first retailers to embrace the Internet in the 1990s, has studied how mobile sites can help customers.
“We realize that most of these barriers are quickly disappearing,” Liu says. “Most popular mobile devices now support Web browsing, pricing for Internet access is coming down even as connection speeds go up, and more and more companies are releasing mobile sites with much-improved user interfaces.”
The mobile site makes shopping more convenient, and people can shop anywhere and at any time, Liu says. “Looking at our main site, not surprisingly, most customers do their shopping during work hours, when they have physical access to their work computer. But now, even customers commuting on the train, sitting on the runway in a plane, in a hotel room on a business trip, or stuck in an extra-long meeting, can bring up the mobile site and order flowers anytime, anywhere.”
Will this sort of technology gain in popularity? “Most definitely,” Liu says. “While most assume that mobile users are predominantly teenagers and young adults, it’s fascinating to watch mobile technology take off among business users. In the past year, just in our company alone, we see mobile technology becoming part of everyday life.”
And as high-speed wireless Internet access becomes more ubiquitous, mobile devices become more advanced, and early adopters start giving way to early majority users, he adds, “I expect we’ll see many more great applications for mobile.”