Retailers unprepared for m-commerce

The majority of retailers believe mobile commerce will impact shopping habits in the next two years, yet only a fraction have a mobile strategy in place, or intend to implement one.

The research into the effect of mobile devices on shoppers, conducted by Vanson Bourne for mobile app provider Kony, revealed that 42% of retailers believe mobile commerce is already affecting shopping behaviour at physical retail locations, while a staggering 89% believe mobile will be as popular as e-commerce.

However, despite this, less than one in five retailers surveyed reported having a mobile strategy fully in place, and almost a third have no plans to implement one at all.

“The aim of this study was to assess the preparedness of UK retailers for mobile in relation to consumer expectations and demands,” said David Eads, head of product marketing at Kony. “The results show a significant discrepancy between retailers’ anticipations of the impact of mobile and the strategies that they currently have in place to facilitate this demand. It is clear that mobile is already affecting shopping habits and has the potential to overtake e-commerce in the next few years. ”

The shift towards mobile is happening in diverse ways and across a number of different channels, the research showed. Retailers are currently placing different emphasis on each area: 45% of retailers identified native mobile applications as the most critical mobile commerce channel to their business; while 40% believe mobile web is more important; and SMS is clearly waning, with just 10% of retailers naming it most important.

On average, retailers expect to spend 21% of their budget on the development and implementation of a mobile strategy, but notably 10% are already investing between 40% to 50% of their budget into mobile.

The research also demonstrated how the rapid fragmentation of the mobile market is leading to increasingly varied consumer preferences and demands. The consumers surveyed expressed a clear preference for mobile during the decision making process, with 60% claiming to use mobile internet to make decisions in a store or while shopping online.

Similarly, 40% use mobile applications to make shopping decisions and 37% use a mixture of the two. While 74% of retailers to have a presence on the iPhone, 58% of consumers prefer to shop and browse on other platforms, meaning that by developing for just the iPhone, retailers are ignoring a significant portion of their customer base.

“The discrepancy between what retailers know they should do and what they are actually doing demonstrates how difficult it is to deliver mobile applications across the wide variety of phones, tablets, and browsers,” continued Eads. “Companies need a partner to manage the mobile chaos so they can focus on growing their business. Retailers are limiting themselves by only serving customers in a few channels. If retailers don’t serve their customers, they will go somewhere else.

“The data clearly shows some retailers are investing significantly in this channel to win those customers. They will attract those customers. The only way to leapfrog the competition and ensure the success of any mobile strategy is to provide customers with a comprehensive offering with those must-have mobile features and functions.”

According to Mark Blowers, practice leader at research firm, Ovum: “As customer experience differentiation grows more important in the competitive retail environment, retailers should look at mobile, not only as a sales channel but also as a vital tool for customer interaction in a complete multichannel retail operation. When developing mobile application strategies, retailers must not think of mobile as a silo but from the outset, integrate the channel into the existing operation.”

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