Marks & Spencer's mobile strategy pays dividends

By Nicola Brittain
28 Sep 2010 View Comments
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All retailers will developing their m-commerce offering according to MIG's Dunn

With analyst firm Gartner predicting that mobile browsing will outstrip internet browsing by 2013, most major retailers are looking to tap into this growing trend.

And Marks & Spencer - the retailer of choice of Middle England, a group that is traditionally late to adopt new technologies - has released some figures today that indicate that investment in mobile commerce is indeed an astute business move.

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The site has seen 10 million page views and 1.2 million unique visitors since its launch in May and the company also said that iPhones are currently the most used phones, followed by Android.

The site was developed by interactive mobile company MIG in collaboration with mobile technology specialist Usablenet.

Director of strategy for MIG Tim Dunn explained that in light of Gartner's predictions all big retailers were currently developing a mobile e-commerce strategy.

The problems with viewing a standard web page via a traditional smartphone include the pages being too big or heavy for the phone's hardware to accommodate.

Dunn explained that companies have two options when creating an e-commerce site. The first would see the IT department opening up APIs from a web commerce store then building an m-commerce site alongside the traditional site.

This option would allow the developer to integrate with the software development kit on specific phones and provide a customer experience that took advantage of their particular phone's hardware. "This is the ideal scenario," according to Dunn.

The second option would see a company create middleware that accesses a URL and scrapes and reuses content from its traditional e-commerce web site.

Marks & Spencer chose this option, and Usablenet developed the middleware. This option, however, has allowed for a custom created mobile design of the site, as well as product search and a store finder.

Recently updated features to the M&S site include a customer feedback facility for reviews and a choice of delivery method.

Separately, Marks & Spencer has launched a new customer service tool called Smart FAQ using software provided by multi-channel solutions provider Transversal.

The feature, which allows customers to ask questions via the search field on the My M&S web site, might stem the flood of M&S customer feedback being added to this Computing story from 2009.

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