To Hire or not to Hire a Mobile Platform Provider (Internet Retailer)

While mobile commerce has boomed in recent years—322 of the merchants listed in the new version of the Top 500 operated a mobile commerce site or app compared with 135 in 2011 and 76 in 2010—most of the 35 mobile commerce vendors can claim only one or two Top 500 retailers as clients. Only three vendors have at least 10 Top 500 clients: Branding Brand, which has 38 Top 500 retailers; Usablenet, with 12; and Unbound Commerce, with 11.

Branding Brand had just one e-retailer client in 2010 based on the initial edition of Internet Retailer’s Mobile Commerce Data Book, published in 2011. But by 2012 it had 30, according to the 2013 edition of Internet Retailer’s Mobile 400. In the latest edition of the Top 500 Guide, whose roster differs from the companies in the Mobile 400, Branding Brand has 38 clients. Branding Brand ranks first among mobile commerce vendors in Internet Retailer’s Leading Vendors to the Top 1,000 E-Retailers. Usablenet ranks No. 3 and Unbound Commerce ranks No.7.

Those mobile technology vendors are growing as retailers and companies of all types seek mobile expertise. However, mobile commerce has become important enough that a growing number of retailers want to have at least some mobile smarts within their own organizations, says Peter Sheldon, principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc. “Increasingly, the retailers are taking responsibility for the development work and some of the day-to-day merchandising activity using tools and dashboards provided by the vendors,” he says.

That trend benefits from a new approach to web site design called responsive web design. Sites built using responsive techniques adapt to the size of the visitor’s screen, and let retailers change the elements a consumer would see, depending on the device they’re using. A retail chain might want the web site that computer users see to feature beautiful product shots on the home page. On the smartphone home page, however, the store locator might stand as the central element. Responsive design provides that kind of flexibility.

Responsive design also has another important advantage, Sheldon says: a retailer needs to create only a single site, with one set of images, product descriptions, prices and all the other content that goes onto a site. With software, the retailer can decide which elements appear on a smartphone versus a tablet or desktop, how big they are and where they appear on the screen.  That approach eliminates the need to design separate sites for mobile devices, Sheldon says, and it’s gaining traction among retailers. “Today, only about 20 of the Internet Retailer Top 500 have live responsive sites, but I know that many retailers are either developing them for launch later this year or considering them for 2014,” he says. “The more retailers that re-build their web front-end using responsive design, the less demand there will be in the market for these vendor solutions.”

Still, not all retailers have the internal resources to develop for mobile today, Sheldon says. Vendors with responsive offerings like Branding Brand or Skava, No. 2 among mobile commerce platform providers in the Leading Vendors guide, will continue to cater to them in the future, he says.

Bibhash Das Joins as Vice President, Client Services (Press Release)

Branding Brand, the leading mobile commerce platform to major retailers, today announced that Bibhash Das has joined the Company as Vice President, Client Services. Das previously served as Senior Director, Account Management, Americas, at Adobe.

"We are excited to welcome Bibhash to the team," said Chris Mason , Branding Brand co-founder and CEO. "His strong background in commerce, retail, and technology will play a critical role as we ramp up to take things to the next level."

Originally at Omniture since 2006, Das joined Adobe as a result of acquisition. Prior to Omniture, he spent two years as Senior Director, Online Merchandising, at Tommy Hilfiger and six years at Barnes & Noble in e-commerce. Das has a BA in Biology from New York University, an MS in Computer Science from Columbia, and a PhD in Web Application and Database Design from City University of New York.  

The new hire comes at a time of strategic expansion amidst dramatic increases in mobile traffic and Company revenue. In 2012, Branding Brand grew from a team of 40 to 120 employees. Last fall, it hired Jeffrey R. Hennion , former Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer and e-Commerce, at GNC and Dick's Sporting Goods, as President.

"During this time of rapid expansion for Branding Brand, both in the breadth of our product offering and in the number of leading retailers and brands using our mobile commerce platform, we are very pleased to add Bibhash in a leadership role, working with our existing clients to ensure their continued success," said Hennion. 

"The opportunity to join Branding Brand at a time of such explosive growth is very exhilarating," said Das. "I'm looking forward to driving stronger partnerships between our customers and the mobile technologies and services we deliver."

(Read full story)


Hilton HHonors App Review (appPicker)

Hilton Worldwide gives you a way to not only enjoy a wonderful hotel stay but also make it a whole lot easier to book and plan.

This app is absolutely filled with travel planning tools for members to take advantage of. Traveling should be stress-free and this app makes sure that is actually the case.

The Hilton HHonors(TM) program is meant for those always on the go business travelers as well as occasional travelers. Anyone can join and one you're a member you'll have been benefits at all the Hilton hotel brands. These brands include DoubleTree by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Embassy Suites, and Hampton.

Some of the tools and features included in this app is the ability to make reservations within the app itself. This means no matter where you are, you can easily launch the app and book a stay. Use the all to search for all the Hilton resorts and hotels to find a property, view the property's amenities, check out the map, and view picture of the hotel.

Use the app to also view your past stays along with the receipts, manage your Hitlon HHonors account, redeem your HHonors Points for stays, cancel or modify reservations, find special travel deals, use the current location function to find a property in your area, and even let the staff know when you arrive so your room will be ready.

Hilton HHonors was released on Apr. 29, 2013 and currently has 24 customer ratings with an average rating of five out of five stars.

I really liked that this app was useful no matter how often you stayed at a Hilton property. It was easy and smooth to navigate and really made the process quick.

(Read full story)

Branding Brand Report Highlights Growth of Mobile Commerce (Mobile Commerce Press)

Branding Brand, a leading mobile commerce platform for retailers, has released the results of its latest Mobile Commerce Index report. The report highlights the performance of mobile commerce in the retail sector, highlighting the traffic that mobile devices represent therein. Mobile commerce is particularly strong in the retail industry and has been well received among a wide range of consumers. The mobile sector has yet to show signs of slowing down when it comes to expansion within the retail industry.

E-commerce sites continue to see high mobile traffic

The report focuses primarily on e-commerce sites that are optimized for mobile use rather than sites that are not optimized for mobile use. In the past, retailers that have been accommodating of mobile commerce have seen a significant growth in online sales. The report shows that this continues to be the case to some degree, especially as smartphones and tablets continue to grow in popularity among consumers.

Smartphones emerging as leading mobile commerce platforms

According to the report, smartphone visits to mobile commerce sites rose by 60% in April of this year over what they had been in April 2012. Tablet visits for the same time period rose by 50%. Smortphones represented the largest growth in mobile sales this year, seeing an increase of 85% over what they had been in 2012. Smartphone revenue also grew by 44%, showing that consumers seem to have a great deal of favor for smartphones when it comes to mobile commerce.

Mobile traffic continues to grow online

Branding Brand notes that approximately 30% of all e-commerce traffic now comes from mobile devices. This is part of a continuing trend that shows more consumers are becoming enamored with mobile commerce as time goes by. This trend is associated with the growing availability of mobile devices and the increasing affluence of the general population. Moreover, those with smartphones and tablets are more likely to spend money online than those without such devices.

(Read full report)  

All Commerce Signs Point Up for Group of Retailers (MobileShopTalk)

Though we wrote about the 10% world of mobile commerce yesterday, it doesn’t mean commerce isn’t growing in some substantial ways.

A new report out today indicates that some retailers are seeing significant year-over-year growth, to the tune of an 85% increase in orders via smartphones.

The research is based on 76 million Web visits, 511 million page views and 1.2 million orders totaling $163 million. The index was organized by m-commerce platform provider Branding Brand....

(Read full story)

Mobile Commerce Index - April 2013

April 2013 report (PDF)

Mobile Commerce Index Shows Smartphone Orders Up 85 Percent (Press Release)

Branding Brand, the leading mobile commerce platform to major retailers, today released the results of its Mobile Commerce Index for April 2013.

The Branding Brand Mobile Commerce Index is a compilation of mobile sites developed by Branding Brand for retailers across a variety of industries including apparel, health and beauty, and home goods. The Index is the largest collection of data on commerce sites specifically designed for smartphones, as opposed to non-optimized desktop sites with mobile traffic.

Compared to April 2012, the Branding Brand Mobile Commerce Index showed the following year-over-year market share gains for the 18 mobile sites tracked during both periods:

  • Smartphone visits increased 60%
  • Tablet visits increased 50%
  • Smartphone orders increased 85%
  • Tablet orders increased 52%
  • Smartphone revenue increased 57%
  • Tablet revenue increased 44%

Additional data points, along with accompanying graphs, are available at:

"Our numbers show that 30 percent of total e-commerce traffic now comes from smartphones and tablets," said Chris Mason, Branding Brand co-founder and CEO. "Every month, we're arming ourselves with additional insight. This is more than the future of mobile; it's the future of commerce."

Mobile eCommerce Sales for 18 Retailers Rise 74% in April (Internet Retailer)

Visits from mobile devices for the 18 retailers jumped 89.7% from 6.8 million in April 2012 to 12.9 million in April 2013, Branding Brand says. 6.8 million mobile visits accounted for 19.8% of 34.3 million total visits in April 2012 and 12.9 million mobile visits represented 30.9% of 41.8 million visits in April 2013.

Visits from tablets grew 82.1% from 2.8 million in April 2012 to 5.1 million in April 2013. Visits from smartphones increased 97.5% from 4.0 million in April 2012 to 7.9 million in April 2013.

Orders placed on mobile devices for the 18 retailers leaped 92.3% from 55,778 in April 2012 to 107,236 in April 2013, Branding Brand reports. Orders placed on tablets grew 82.0% from 41,127 in April 2012 to 74,851 in April 2013. Orders placed on smartphones jumped 121.0% from 14,651 in April 2012 to 32,385 in April 2013.

Mobile Traffic Post-holiday Continues to Soar (Mobile Marketer)

"As mobile traffic increases, so does C-suite interest," said Chris Mason, co-founder and CEO of Branding Brand, Pittsburgh, PA.

"Now that mobile has evolved from a nice-to-have to a must-have, the stakeholders are also changing,” he said. “This is no longer a side project for one person in marketing or e-commerce."

(Read full story)

2013 Retailer Data Reveals Growing Gap Between Mobile Solutions (Press Release)

New data from Internet Retailer reveals that, for the second year in a row, Branding Brand powers more Top 500 retailers than any other mobile commerce vendor. According to, three times as many retailers use the company's platform, as compared to the second-place provider.

While other vendors experienced year-over-year decreases in client count, Branding Brand added eight Top 500 retailers to its portfolio. Since the time of data collection, seven additional Top 500 clients have engaged Branding Brand as their mobile commerce vendor.

"Last year, we were proud to become the top mobile commerce company," said Chris Mason , Branding Brand co-founder and CEO. "This year was about maintaining that honor and growing the lead.  

"Even though 53 percent of Top 500 retailers run e-commerce internally, only 15 percent have taken m-commerce in house," said Mason. "Especially when it comes to mobile, we're seeing that retailers want not just a provider, but a partner."


(Read full story

CTIA Announces B!G Idea Award Finalists (CTIA)

CTIA–The Wireless Association® today announced the finalists for its annual B!G Idea Awards. This year, the awards honor the mobile champions and visionaries who are transforming the mobile ecosystem.

Over the last few weeks, members of the wireless industry voted online for their favorite B!G Idea contenders for their important roles in mobile innovation. The votes have been tallied and we will present the B!G Ideas winners on Tuesday, May 21 at 2 p.m. PDT at CTIA 2013.

(Read full story)

Are Retailers Doing Enough to Leverage Kindle Fire? (Mobile Marketer)

“Many merchants are redirecting Kindle Fire Web traffic to their smartphone sites,” said Joey Rahimi, co-founder and chief information officer of Branding Brand, Pittsburgh, PA. “Currently, it is a best practice to redirect tablets eight-inches and below to the mobile site and provide clear opt-out capabilities that allow users to switch to the classic desktop site.

“Kindle Fire users are most likely using for shopping, as it’s a default application on the operating system and embedded into the Kindle Fire experience,” he said.

“A retailer’s best option to compete with Amazon for Kindle Fire users is to optimize for the mobile Web, since nearly 50 percent of smartphone shoppers begin their purchase with a Google search.”

(Read full story)

Kate Spade’s Saturday Targets Fashionistas with Mobile Commerce Site (Mobile Commerce Daily)

Kate Spade’s Saturday brand is elevating its mobile commerce efforts with a new optimized site that lets fashion-savvy consumers shop the latest trends.

Kate Spade also has a mobile site for its flagship brand. Both sites were developed by Branding Brand.

“This new site seamlessly extends the Kate Spade Saturday experience to mobile users in a way that’s fun and on-brand,” said Chris Mason, co-founder/CEO of Branding Brand.

Mobile shopping
Consumers can access the Saturday mobile site by entering on their mobile browser.

Via the mobile commerce site, users can shop the newest items, as well as browse various categories, such as clothing, accessories, home and travel and featured shops.

Branding Brand Selected As Nominee In 17th Annual Webby Awards (Press Release)

Branding Brand announced today that its Crate & Barrel Wedding & Gift Registry App has been nominated for Best Shopping Mobile App in the 17th Annual Webby Awards. Hailed as the "Internet's highest honor" by The New York Times, The Webby Awards, presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS), is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet. The IADAS, which nominates and selects The Webby Award Winners, is comprised of web industry experts, including media mogul Arianna Huffington, Skype CEO Tony Bates, Mozilla CEO and Chair Mitchell Baker, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom, mobile-phone inventor Martin Cooper, and StumbleUpon founder Garrett Camp.

Branding Brand builds mobile sites and apps for over 150 leading retailers, including American Eagle Outfitters, Ralph Lauren, and Sephora. The company was founded by three friends from Carnegie Mellon University and is headquartered in Pittsburgh.

"Nominees like Branding Brand are setting the standard for innovation and creativity on the Internet," said David-Michel Davies, Executive Director of The Webby Awards. "It is an incredible achievement to be selected among the best from the 11,000 entries we received this year."

(Read full story)

Apple Passbook Users Are Among Sephora’s Best Customers

More than 600,000 Sephora USA Inc. customers have registered their Beauty Insider loyalty cards in the Passbook mobile wallet on their Apple Inc. iPhones, the cosmetics chain retailer has revealed. This enables the customers to check their points balance with a screen swipe through the wallet and present the digital version of the card at checkout in-store, replacing the plastic card.

Sephora has discovered something important about Passbook users since it rolled out Passbook integration last September: Passbook users are among Sephora’s best customers. 80% of customers who put their Beauty Insider card in Passbook are what Sephora considers active customers, those who have made at least one purchase in the last year. Passbook users spend two times more annually and purchase twice as frequently as the average Sephora customer, the merchant says.

“Passbook has been a pretty interesting success for us,” says Johnna Marcus, director of mobile and digital store marketing at Sephora, No. 106 in the Internet Retailer Mobile 400. “We were there on day one and are currently one of only around 20 brands in Passbook. What we learned is that our Beauty Insiders really find a benefit in Passbook.”

(Read full story)

Vitacost Bolsters Product Sales via Tablet-optimized Site (Mobile Commerce Daily)

Vitacost has rolled out a tablet-optimized site as part of the company’s ongoing push to create a streamlined and seamless mobile shopping experience.

Consumers can access the optimized site by going to on their tablet browser. The company tapped Branding Brand to execute the tablet site development.

“For many clients, tablet users spend more money than desktop or smartphone users,” said Chris Mason, co-founder/CEO of Branding Brand.

“In addition to average order value, the peak times and items purchased are also different,” he said. “Retailers who provide tablet-specific experiences are being rewarded for catering to these unique use-cases. 

“On average, tablet-optimized sites increase conversion an additional 10 percent.”

Shopping experience
Through the tablet-optimized site, consumers can shop from a variety of categories such as vitamins and supplements, sports and fitness, herbs, diet, beauty and personal care, baby, food, professional lines and medicine cabinet items.

Furthermore, consumers can shop by specific brands and sort their search by top selling items, new ones, ratings and price.

There is also a search function at the top of the screen that lets consumers enter a specific keyword to look up a product.

Via the new optimized-site, consumers can also sign-in to their account and add items to their favorites list.

Moreover, users can drag items to add them to their cart.

The tablet site is also interactive.

For example, consumers can scroll horizontally to browse products and view prices.

When users tap on a specific item, a tab pops up where they can browse reviews to see what others are saying, learn more about the product, as well as check out its nutrition and ingredients.

Importance of mobile
Nowadays, it is very important that marketers optimize their shopping experience across all platforms.

Consumers do not like to pinch-and-zoom. And, when it comes to shopping, it is all about convenience.

Tablets are increasingly become more popular. Therefore, more marketers need to create optimized experiences for them.

“The Vitacost HTML5 tablet site is a prime example of mobile’s ability to connect and enhance online and offline worlds,” Mr. Mason said.

“Now, at-home users can enjoy the serendipitous discovery of in-store experiences,” he said. “We are changing the way people shop and interact with retailers.”

(Read full story)

Health and Wellness Retailer Vitacost Turns To Tablets To Drive Serendipitous Sales (TechCrunch)

Vitamin and health food online retailer Vitacost has launched a tablet-optimised website for the iPad and iPad Mini that’s designed to encourage shoppers to put more than just the core items on their shopping list into their digital basket. Introducing a little serendipity into the buying process makes a lot of sense when you’re selling 40,000+ different products but what’s interesting is that Vitacost sees tablets as the place to do this.

Vitacost already has a smartphone app but says its tablet “experience”, which is designed for the iPad but built in HTML5 so is not a native app, is “entirely different” to the smartphone app — with a focus on allowing shoppers to discover new items, rather than just making it quick and easy to shop by category.

“The tablet size and form-factor encourages browsing,” says Vitacost CMO David Zucker. ”Information-rich, large catalog retailers work really well in a browsing format on a tablet, which is difficult to achieve on a smartphone.”

“The iPad experience is not an app but an actual website in HTML 5 to exploit the tablet and its functionality.  Our phone app is optimized for that size screen while the new iPad experience is designed for the mid-size screen and the iPad functionality,” he adds.

(Read full story)

Dean & Deluca Pushes Products via Commerce-enabled iPhone App (Mobile Commerce Daily)

Dean & Deluca is encouraging consumers to discover a new way to shop with a new iPhone application that lets them browse and buy a selection of artisanal and gourmet food.

The Dean & Deluca Gifting on the Go iPhone app is available for free download in Apple’s App Store. The company tapped Branding Brand to develop the app.

“Great apps cater to loyal customers and repetition,” said Chris Mason, co-founder/CEO of Branding Brand.

“With so many holidays and occasions throughout the year, gift-giving lends itself especially well to this format,” he said.

Mobile shopping
Through the Dean & Deluca app, consumers can find gifts for others and use the new scan feature to get instant access to product details and reviews.

Consumers can also buy products straight from their smartphone and get the items shipped directly to their home.

Via the app, consumers can browse new gifts, check out the company’s gift cards as well as its ready-made gift baskets.

Users can filter down their search by alphabet, price and popularity.

There is also a search functionality feature on the top of the screen that lets consumers look up a specific product.

Moreover, consumers can view their account, enter their payment method and browse their order history.

Mobile apps
A mobile app is a smart move for Dean & Deluca.

Nowadays, a majority of consumers do their shopping while on the go. Therefore, having a mobile-optimized presence is optimal.

And, an iPhone app is a good start.

“I have always loved the Dean & Deluca brand,” Mr. Mason.

“They have a clear reputation for quality, and it’s an honor to help translate this into an app,” he said.

(Read full story)

Braintree Opens up Venmo In-app Payments to all iOS Developers (Gigaom)

When Braintree bought Venmo for $26.2 million in August what it got was a peer-to-peer payments provider that replicated the ease of a PayPal money transfer within its mobile apps. But two months ago, Braintree started tweaking Venmo’s technology as a payment identity tool on iOS, called Venmo Touch.

A beta project with three of its customers — TaskRabbit, HotelTonight and Wrapp – Venmo Touch allowed you to transfer credit card info from iPhone app to iPhone app, preventing customers from having to re-enter their credit card info every time they did business with a new brand or downloaded a new app. Instead, a customer could just hit the Venmo payment button and enter his or her credit card security code.

Now Braintree is taking Venmo Touch out of beta and offering it to all of its customers (though still only in iOS), and it’s using it as recruitment tool to get new ones. Traditionally Braintree has been the payments processor for e-commerce startups like Airbnb, Uber and Rovio, but now it wants to move into brick-and-mortar retail – or at least power the m-commerce transactions for traditional brick-and-mortar brands. Through a new partnership with Branding Brand — which builds mobile apps for the likes of American Eagle Outfitters, Costco and Crate & Barrel – it hopes to embed Venmo Touch in some pretty high-volume retail apps.

Chicago-based Braintree is already starting to see a big uptick in mobile transactions: $2 billion of its $8 billion in annual transactions are now coming from mobile apps and mobile websites.

(Read full story)

Top Metrics for Measuring Mobile Web Usability (Mobile Marketer)

Fragmentation is a key challenge in measuring mobile Web metrics as marketers are not sure how to segment out traffic properly between form factors. If traffic is not properly segmented, this can result in overlapped and skewed data.

Joey Rahimi, co-founder and chief information officer at Branding Brand, Pittsburgh, PA, recommends giving each form factor its own goals and benchmarks. This means placing smartphones in one bucket, small tablets – 8 inches and below - in another and large tablets such as the iPad in another.

From here, marketers can establish a conversion and average order value ratio for each form factor. These should be monitored weekly to help optimize the experience for each.

Marketers should also analyze visits as a percentage of total traffic to identify where mobile is going in terms of visits and market share as a way to help determine future budgets.

Another helpful metric for determining budgets is mobile revenue as a percentage of total revenue. 
Other key metrics to keep in mind are mobile conversion compared to the desktop site, which should be at least 20 percent, per Mr. Rahimi. The mobile average order value compared to the desktop site should be at least 84 percent.

“Because mobile is so new, every retailer needs to understand what the best experience is for their user,” Mr. Rahimi said. “Comparing metrics to the desktop site provides retailers with an aspirational benchmark.”

(Read full story)

Steve Madden Launches iPhone Shopping App (Newsday)

Note to the girls who update their shoe racks more often than their Facebook pages: Steve Madden has you on his radar.

The Lawrence-bred designer just launched the Steve Madden iPhone app, to help savvy shoe shoppers keep up with the latest styles, shop easily from their phones and score exclusive discounts.

It's just the right blend of practical and fun-- shoppers can search for the shoe they want and see the store nearest them that has their size in stock, or they can showcase their wish lists or new buys in a virtual shoe closet.

The app will have featured gift guides by occasion and images for style inspiration.

(Read full story)