IBM is entering the burgeoning mobile commerce market today with the latest version of Websphere Commerce, its technology for creating online stores. Version 7’s big addition (at least according to IBM’s press material) is the ability to create a version of your web store that’s tailored for smartphones like the iPhone and BlackBerry.
Mobile stores created using Webshere are supposed to be full-featured stores that include some mobile-specific features. Customers can compare different products side-by-side, see what’s currently in stock, make a purchase, and then follow a map to the nearest store where they can pick up what they just bought. It’s an approach that seems logical, and perhaps even inevitable, as more and more online activity occurs on smartphones. IBM says this is further proof of its embrace of mobile technology, following the announcement of a $100 million mobile research effort in June. (Unfortunately, I don’t have any sample screenshots to show off, but a company spokesperson says we’ll get a demo video in the morning.)
Websphere Commerce 7 is available now, with pricing starting at $30,000. Other new features include integration with social networking sites, so you can send a product review and link to (say) Facebook with just one click; improved customer analytics; and a starter store for selling products to businesses (as opposed to your standard online store, which sells to consumers).