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Ghirardelli launches mobile commerce storefronts to boost holiday sales

Ghirardelli Chocolate Co. has introduced a new iPhone application and mobile Web storefront in time for the holiday season, one of its busiest times of the year.

The mobile initiatives were built on the Digby Mobile Commerce Suite platform. The chocolate giant recognized that consumers? shopping behavior is changing and it wants to be as accessible and convenient as possible.

?The strategy for launching the app and mobile commerce site is to make Ghirardelli Chocolate readily available whenever a consumer wants to purchase chocolate,? said Heather Jordan, marketing manager for Ghirardelli Chocolate, San Leandro, CA.

?It is part of our multichannel distribution channel to serve our customers in whatever way works best for them,? she said. ?We want to be the first chocolate company that customers think of and when they think of us, we need to be available to them.

?A lot of our customers send Ghirardelli gift baskets to clients or as thank you's and a lot of these professionals have the technology to order on the go. The mobile commerce site and app serve this customer base in the most efficient way possible.?

Ghirardelli is a manufacturer and marketer of premium chocolate products.

Research firm Gartner recently reported that, in the second quarter of 2009, smartphone sales surpassed 40 million units worldwide, a 27 percent increase over the same period last year.

As a result, smartphones are the fastest growing segment in the mobile device market.

With Apple continuing to dominate the smartphone market in the United States, Ghirardelli?s iPhone application is aimed at giving this growing market easy access to its products anytime, anywhere.

The Digby Mobile Commerce Suite will enable Ghirardelli to offer:

? Access to its most popular products
? Product descriptions and full-color images
? Address book integration
? Secure transactions and password-protected purchasing
? Integration with existing backend cataloging and order processing systems

?The target demo is a varied mix of professionals that will likely use the app for convenience, as well as the tech-savvy consumer who is always embracing the latest technology and will have this app available just in case the occasion arises to send something sweet,? Ms. Jordan said.

There are no other advertisements currently on the application or the mobile site.

Ms. Jordan said it is purely Ghirardelli in order to serve the mobile customer in the most direct way possible: a few clicks and the purchase is done.

Ghirardelli is tracking the origin of its orders to rate the effectiveness of the application.

The site functions as another building block to the company?s multichannel sales strategy. Additionally, the chocolate company was really focused on the service being available for the holidays, to capitalize on one of its busiest times of the year.

?These mobile initiatives remove the obstacle of place for Ghirardelli. Before the launch, customers had to be at a computer or in a store to make a purchase, now we can serve the customer much more easily,? Ms. Jordan said. ?While our ecommerce site may still be the core of our business, the mobile site complements that site and allows customers to leave the laptop at home and rely solely on a much more portable device.

?It also removes the obstacle of time,? she said. ?Most customers who will use mobile commerce are extremely busy and the mobile ordering allows them to save a few precious minutes in their day,? she said.