As mobile technology changes the way consumers shop, more and more retailers are investing in mobile Web sites. Since last September, at least a dozen national chains have launched m-commerce sites, including American Eagle Outfitters, A|X Armani Exchange, Sears, Target and Whole Foods Market.

The latest to join this movement is Foothill Ranch, Calif.-based specialty apparel seller West Seal Inc. In January the firm rolled out the site. It also added features to its corporate site such as allowing shoppers to reserve products online and a platform that allows customers to shop with friends in real time through social media.

Wet Seal's mobile site allows customers to receive real time inventory updates and find nearby stores, as well as buy products. Wet Seal's model differs from some other retailers. Whole Foods Market, for example, allows customers to browse more than 2,000 recipes and look up store information, but does not feature a mobile check-out option. According to Jon Kubo, Wet Seal's vice president and chief information officer, the ability to buy merchandise directly from the mobile channel is not essential. The real function of such sites should be to provide customers with all the information they need while they are searching for or shopping in your store. “It's much more than just buying. You can't ignore that the customer is carrying the Internet in their pocket now,” says Kubo. Going forward, “the mobile Web site will be the most important cross-channel integration that you can do.”

Site Specs

Wet Seal estimates that 90 percent of customers in the 15-year-old to 19-year-old demographic, which is the brand's core constituency, currently own a mobile device. Of those, about 30 percent own smart phones. Wet Seal is also working on a mobile site for its R&B brand, which serves the 25-year-old to 35-year-old demographic.