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Texas Longhorns’ University Co-op drives sales via mobile site

December 17, 2010

Texas Longhorns’ University Co-op taps Digby

Texas Longhorns’ University Co-op taps Digby

The University Co-op, a retailer of University of Texas merchandise targeting students and fans, has launched a mobile-optimized, commerce-enabled Web site.

The University Co-op tapped Digby to power the mobile commerce site. Now, University of Texas fans, students and faculty can support the school by searching, browsing and buying Texas Longhorn gear directly from the University Co-op mobile Web site.

“The strategy is honestly pretty simple,” said Brian Jewell, vice president of marketing for University Co-op, Austin, TX. “Digby is the industry leader in mobile Web site development and that was an easy decision to partner with them.

“Why a mobile Web site? The statistics are overwhelming in the movement of ecommerce to smartphone devices,” he said. “We want to be on the forefront of this technology much as we were when we developed our Web site in the late 90s.

“It will not be that many years before our customers will demand that they can purchase from us on a smartphone—we want to be ready now for that demand.”

The University Co-op, a nonprofit corporation owned by the students, faculty and staff of the University of Texas at Austin, claims to be one of the most successful and progressive independent college bookstores in the country.

Since 2000, the Co-op has given more than $32 million to the University of Texas in the form of gifts, grants and rebates.

Digby mobilizes retailers by helping them take a strategic approach to mobile commerce by delivering a branded experience for the mobile Web and rich applications for consumers.

Digby’s clients include Toys ‘R’ Us, Home Depot, Lilly Pulitzer, Wet Seal, Godiva, 1-800-Flowers, Golfsmith and Orvis.

Mobile merchandising
In the 1990s, the Co-op was one of the first College Bookstores to launch an ecommerce site and now, it continues this path by creating a mobile shopping experience for Longhorn fans who are on the go using mobile devices such as Apple’s iPhone/iPod touch, Research In Motion’s BlackBerry and Google’s Android devices. 

The University Co-op homepage of the mobile Web site includes sections such as What’s New, Best Sellers, Sale, Men’s, Women’s, Kids, Gifts, Game Day, Seasonal, Store Locator, Help, Contact Us and an always accessible Search Bar.

Once categories and products are selected, fans can see product images, complete product descriptions and pricing. They can add to cart, share to Twitter and email a friend.

Students will even be able to connect from the mobile site to the University Co-op Bookstore’s main site to order textbooks and school supplies.

With 65 million smartphones expected to ship this year in the U.S. and 37 percent of smartphone owners making purchases from mobiles device in 2009, the University Co-op is enabling an enterprise-class mobile Web site to complement their in-store and ecommerce Web site at an opportune time.

At this time, the marketing will come through the more traditional means of email blasts, Facebook postings, Twitter notifications and information on the standard PC site.

The University Co-op will also incorporate traditional in-store signage in all eight store locations throughout Texas.

There will be a postcard mailing in January with a QR code offer, an email blast in January with a QR code offer and inclusion of information in all print ads in the spring of 2011.

The mobile payment mechanism is credit and debit cards.

The University Co-op will begin offering specific incentives, sales and coupons via the mobile site in the middle of January.

“Other than traditional challenges that any new venture incurs, the biggest was integrating our current ecommerce platform into the Digby mobile platform,” Mr. Jewell said. “That involved many long and tedious conversations.

“While it did take time, both companies had our best interests in mind to get us what we wanted in a mobile site,” he said.

Final Take
Dave Sikora, founder/CEO, Digby

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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