7 Platforms Local Merchants Can Use to Build Mobile Websites

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Savvy consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices to find information about businesses in their local areas. Fifty-four percent of smartphone users now use their phones to “pre-shop” before arriving at stores, and 51% of consumers are more likely to make purchases from retailers with mobile sites.

Despite this, only 4.8% of retailers in the U.S. currently have mobile-specific websites, and 20.8% of retailers still show Flash, which prevents many mobile users from being able to view the content they post. Many of the features that make traditional websites stand out, like decorative splash pages and large image files, can cause those sites to load more slowly on mobile phones — a major problem given that 74% of mobile users will abandon a site after waiting just five seconds for it to load.

In an effort to help local merchants bring their websites into the 21st century, a number of hyperlocal companies have stepped up with platforms that SMBs can use to easily create mobile-optimized sites. Here are seven of those platforms:

1. DudaMobile
DudaMobile gives business owners the tools to create mobile-friendly versions of their existing websites, which work on the iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows Mobile devices. Once a company’s mobile site is set-up, DudaMobile will run automatic updates to ensure all the content posted on the business’ regular website is updated on its mobile site. SMBs can add maps, directions, click-to-call buttons, and text messaging features to their mobile sites. Although DudaMobile offers a free plan for basic sites, most SMBs will want to choose upgraded plans, which can range in price from $9 (per month) to $499 (for the first year).

2. MoFuse
MoFuse is a platform that SMBs can use to create mobile sites, microsites, landing pages, and forms that work on mobile devices. In addition to its DIY design tools and form builders, the platform offers tools that business owners can use to add QR codes, store locators, and social sharing buttons to their mobile sites. Small businesses that are interested in MoFuse’s build-it-yourself platform can pay $39 to $89 per month for the service, while merchants needing a bit more hand-holding can pay a one-time fee of $650 to have MoFuse build them a mobile site from scratch.

3. Landr
Landr is a platform that businesses can use to create landing pages that work well on mobile phones. Mobile landing pages developed with Landr are simple and straightforward; most include nothing more than the business name, a photo, a phone number, and a button that visitors can click for directions. Landr pages can also be developed to include QR codes, limited-time discounts, and links to a business’ social media accounts. Merchants that use the service can expect to pay $9 per month.

4. GoMo
Google’s GoMo is a service that merchants can use to see how their current websites look to mobile users. Assuming their existing sites are not up to par, business owners can use GoMo’s mobile website builder — which is powered by DudaMobile — to create their own mobile sites using customizable templates for free. SMBs that use GoMo’s site builder are given complimentary access to DudaMobile’s premium service for one year, after which they can expect to pay $9 per month.

5. Wirenode
Businesses interesting in creating mobile sites for their marketing campaigns can check out Wirenode, a mobile website creator that walks merchants through the process of designing and publishing interactive mobile sites to go along with their latest marketing campaigns. Websites created with Wirenode are accessible from every mobile phone, regardless of model or age. Pricing with Wirenode ranges from free (for a single basic site) to $259 per month (for up to 100 mobile sites with all the bells and whistles).

6. CraveUp
Local businesses that sign up for CraveUp, the mobile advertising platform developed by CraveLabs, can create mobile websites based on the content they’ve loaded onto their Facebook pages. CraveUp pulls contact information, status updates, and photo galleries from merchants’ Facebook pages, and then uses that information to populate the business’ new mobile site. Most mobile sites developed with CraveUp are  packaged with a mobile advertising campaign run through one of CraveLabs’ local media partners. CraveLabs is not charging individual customers while the platform is still in beta.

7. mobiSiteGalore
MobiSiteGalore is a mobile website creation tool that people with no technical knowledge or programming skills can use to create robust mobile sites in under one hour. Merchants can choose from a number of design templates, and then customize the colors, fonts, and layouts to make their sites unique. MobiSiteGalore integrates with Paypal and Google Checkout, which makes it possible for merchants to sell products and accept payments on their mobile sites. MobiSiteGalore offers a number of pricing packages, which range from free to $975 per year.

Know of other platforms that merchants can use to create mobile versions of their existing websites? Leave a description in the comments.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Small_Realm.

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Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.