Ahead of the Curve

Building and maintaining a mobile retail site can be a challenge — but it’s one that only the most foolhardy retailers would ignore, as consumers increasingly use handheld devices to complement the shopping experience and make purchases.


Indeed, consumers are buying a range of items — from movie tickets to apparel to motorcycle tires — via mobile devices. According to a recent study by mobile advertising firm JiWire, half of mobile owners said they would feel comfortable spending $100 or more on a purchase made on a smartphone.


To keep up with this growing trend, many retailers are turning to third-party solution providers to help them build and maintain dynamic mobile sites. That’s exactly what Motorcycle Superstore did when it noticed an uptick in shoppers accessing its site via mobile devices. 


The Medford, Ohio-based online retailer, which sells motorcycle apparel and accessories, realized it wasn’t very mobile-ready — shoppers had difficulty navigating and browsing the site — and it also realized it was missing out on a very real opportunity to bring in more sales. 


“We knew mobile was a growing channel and wanted to stay ahead of the curve, so we sought a vendor to help us get ready for the wave,” said Jason Miller, chief technology officer of Motorcycle Superstore. 


In October 2010, Motorcycle Superstore turned to SLI Systems, San Jose, Calif., a search and navigation solutions provider that the e-commerce site was already working with to help its Web search capabilities. The retailer implemented SLI Mobile, a full-service solution that helps retailers and other online businesses get their mobile-optimized websites fully operational in a short time frame. 


The merchant saw big results soon after implementing the solution. Although Miller expected shoppers to research product information and make better-informed purchasing decisions, he wasn’t anticipating the influx of sales, too.


“We were surprised how popular our mobile site was from both a browsing and purchasing standpoint,” Miller said. “We thought shoppers would mostly be interested in learning about and looking through products, but so much more happened. Our mobile site is on track to bring in over $2 million in sales in 2011.”


About 4% to 6% of Motorcycle Superstore’s overall site traffic now comes from mobile device users, and about 2% to 3% of its daily revenue comes from mobile. 


People don’t just dash and leave either; they spend an average of nine minutes on the site.


“To engage mobile shoppers and turn them into repeat customers, you need a well-designed mobile site that doesn’t slow down the searching and shopping process,” Miller said. 


The amount of time shoppers stay on Motorcycle Superstore’s mobile commerce site also speaks to the site’s ease of use, he added. 


“Overall, it’s been a big success so far,” Miller said, “and we certainly plan to grow and expand our mobile presence as the m-commerce industry grows and expands as well.”