Should Retailers Be Working to Grow Mobile Sites?

In Omnichannel, Technology, The Mobile Customer by Julia Eisler

Should Retailers Be Working to Grow Mobile Sites?

Currently 79 percent of people 18-44 have their smartphones with them at least 22 hours a day. One thing's clear: consumers are growing more attached to their smartphones and a recent study has shown that they're ready to use the technology's affordances to shop. However, despite these facts research shows that about a fifth of the top 50 e-tailers (retailers who only have an online presence) are failing to meet these consumer desires for more mobile retail opportunities.

Mobile shopping is a retail channel that is not yet seeing its full potential. Primarily a shopping method used by a younger generation of shoppers (37 percent of 18-24 year olds and 38 percent 25-34 year olds have shopped via smart phone compared to only 27 percent of 35-54 year olds), mobile retail is not a genre that appeals to all consumers – but it's definitely a channel that's seeing a whole lot of growth. Additional facts the study exposed are that younger shoppers are more likely to use their smart phones to search for special deals/discounts; whereas, older shoppers are more inclined to use a tablet to shop as opposed to a smartphone.

Despite one of the major affordances of smartphones, their portability, approximately two thirds of mobile purchases are made from the comfort of the buyer's home, likely due to guaranteed connectivity and access to wifi. Why are shoppers opting for their smartphone over their laptop or even their tablet if they're home? Research indicates that consumers are attracted to the immediacy that using a smart phone gives its users.

A study conducted by Mastek has shown that of the top 50 online retailers over one fifth do not offer mobile optimization for their websites or have a smart phone app to make it easier to engage with customers. This is compared to approximately 28 percent of these e-tailers who actually have multiple smart phone apps to interact with consumers where they offer various incentives to interactive consumers to interact with their brand. While about 95 percent of mobile sites are transactional, 75 percent of smartphone apps are not.

The inability of e-tailers to provide instant gratification to their mobile customers will ultimately cause these online retailers to risk the loss of potential consumers who may turn to opposing retailers who are able to meet their purchasing needs. All retailers should look to mobile commerce as the next frontier and should start trying to take advantage of the service in order to grow their sales.

What are your thoughts on mobile commerce? Do you think that growing their mobile presence is an essential step for successful retailers?

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<Image: Jason A. Howie – Flickr>