Costco Does Mobile Right

Two of my favorite things in the world have come together – Costco and mobile. And I am so happy to share all the ways that Costco is doing mobile right and a couple things I wish they would do differently.

First, I was alerted to the new Costco mobile strategy when I read my November 2010 issue of Costco Connection, their excellent member magazine. That is actually the first thing they did right was have an excellent magazine that is worth members’ time to read. In the article titled Beaming up to, David Wright announced that Costco now has a mobile-friendly website and an SMS campaign. They have apps for iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones coming soon.

Obviously, the first thing Costco is doing right is getting mobilized. It is time for smart businesses to be on board with mobile.

I am so glad they did the mobile web first and are launching apps later. Any smart phone can get on the mobile web. By going with the mobile web first they opened for all smart phones and mobile web-enabled phones. Smart move. Businesses that declare they are “mobile” and only have an iPhone app are missing the big picture and the biggest audience.

Costco did not make a big deal about their mobile site domain being and suggesting that members need to go to that domain. Instead they simply said to go to and they let the device detection software do the work of providing the correct version of the site. Happily, this device detection worked for my Palm Pre on webOS. Often, device detection fails for me and serves the desktop site to my Pre. They should have a link to their mobile site from their desktop site in case this didn’t work. (BTW, this is one of the most common mistakes I see in mobile web development.)

As you can see they developed a true mobile site that takes into account what mobile users would most likely need – search, locations and the ability to sign up for SMS offers all prominently featured. It is so important to remember that mobile users have different needs than desktop site visitors.

Next, their SMS campaign is also great because it opens up Costco mobile to ALL phones. Any phone can send and receive text messages. Having a text message campaign ensures that all Costco members with cell phones can interact with them via mobile.

Since I only signed up last week I have only received two messages from Costco – my welcome message and an alert that my new coupon book is active. I am very excited to see what I get on Cyber Monday. According to their ad in Costco Connection, it is sure to be something noteworthy. Maybe I will make my first mcommerce purchase at Costco’s mobile site. (I will let you know.)

One thing I wish they did differently is to use STOP as their opt out action word. Nobody else I have ever seen uses NOTEXT. First of all, businesses should stick with the standard terms to avoid confusion on the part of customers. At least they are putting it in every message. Secondly, it uses two extra characters. Don’t they need those characters to tell me all about the cool stuff they have for me to come get?

Thumbs up Costco! I’ll see you soon, in the store and on my phone.


  1. Yay! Costco going mobile? And doing it well? I feel like I just got invited to the wedding of two of my best friends. (Now if only they could have wine and chocolate babies.)

  2. Thank you for the invaluable feedback Kim. I’m glad we were able to launch our site properly, and in a fashion that provides value to our member base.

    Please feel free to email directly me if you notice any areas of opportunity for our site. Your observations are appreciated.

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