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Focus on: Mobile Commerce


From Bass Pro Shops, where consumers can pay for virtual gift cards via Facebook and deliver them directly to mobile phones, to Best Buy, which has made its weekly circular interactive by incorporating mobile calls-to-action into some of the pages, more and more retailers are reaching out to consumers via mobile-commerce applications. Industry experts expect the trend to continue, fueled by consumers’ growing use of Web-enabled smart-phone technology.

The statistics tell the story: Twenty-three percent of all U.S. mobile users owned a smart phone in the first quarter of 2010, up from 16% in the second quarter of 2009, according to a Nielsen report. Looking ahead, Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Research predicts that because mobile phones are expected to overtake PCs as the most common Web-access device worldwide in 2013, the channel is primed to forever change the way consumers shop, allowing them to access, research and transact with retailers anytime, anywhere.

Although the channel is already exploding overseas—especially in Asia and parts of Europe—some retailers stateside are still trying to figure out how to get into the game. But that is quickly changing. Some U.S.-based merchants are already reaping big benefits by engaging consumers through hand-held devices. These merchants are not only driving traffic to their mobile sites and providing shoppers with on-demand store locator and product information, but also enjoying a large jump in revenue.

The main secret to luring and engaging customers through a handheld device is that mobile sites should be easy to use and worth their time, said Sucharita Mulpuru, VP and principal analyst for Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research.

“Good mobile sites address user needs well, even if it’s just easily enabling customers to find products and buy them,” Mulpuru said. “Such sites enable cross-channel shopping and don’t create obstacles in the shopping process for customers.”

It would be impossible to review all the retail mobile-applications out there since each day brings news of a new one. But here are five retail mobile sites that stand out in the marketplace:

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