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Comment: Retailers must be ready for a mobile Christmas

Retailers face an exciting new challenge this Christmas as more consumers turn to smartphones as their preferred channel to make purchases online. by David J Smith


Comment: Retailers must be ready for a mobile Christmas

Retailers face an exciting new challenge this Christmas as more consumers turn to smartphones as their preferred channel to make purchases online. by David J Smith

Since May 2010, there’s been a whopping 163% increase in the number of consumers in the UK who access retail websites via their mobile phone and this growth looks set to continue as we head towards the festive season.
In fact, when it comes to m-commerce, consumers (as opposed to retailers) are confidently leading the way around the globe. New data released by comScore reveals that 13.5 million users across the five leading European markets (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK), accounting for 5.8% of all mobile subscribers, accessed online retail sites in the three month average period ending May 2011.

In the EU5 region, the number of smartphone users accessing online retail sites has increased by 80% over the past year. However, the growth of mobile retail is stronger in the UK than anywhere else in Europe.

Recent research, to be released by IMRG shortly, has found that 54% of UK consumers will commence Christmas shopping early to spread the cost of their budgets. Moreover, a high percentage of them will use their mobile phone to browse retail sites, and subsequently around half of those will use their mobile to make a purchase.

In October 2010, the Mobile-Commerce Joint Industry Committee (MCJIC) found that just four out of the top 20 most frequently visited retailer websites were optimised for mobile, and only eight had any  kind of mobile application at all. This was despite the fact that nearly all UK retail brands (94%) regarded mobile revenues as a real opportunity for their business over the next 12 months.

So a year on from MCJIC’s findings, what are retailers’ plans – if any - for a mobile strategy? Are they building mobile platforms with smartphone users in mind, and considering the needs of users? Or are the majority of retailers still struggling to keep up the pace with consumers, and will some of them be left behind?

During the festive season, half of all consumers will use the internet to shop at different stores to which they would normally shop on the high street, providing an ideal opportunity for retailers to gain new customers whose first experience of the brand may come via a smartphone.
For retailers to benefit from this fast-rising trend, right choices will need to be made sooner rather than later. If retailers are unprepared to provide an engaging mobile experience they could well miss a prime opportunity this Christmas.

David J Smith is Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, IMRG

The Retail Bulletin’s Mobile Retailing Summit 2011, sponsored by DigiPoS, and supported by IMRG, is on September 27th in London and has an impressive speaker programme. The event is retailer-led which will stimulate lively debate and is a must attend for those retailers who want to embrace mobile as an integral part of their multi-channel offering.

This one day summit will enable you to build a profitable mobile strategy and network with like-minded executives. Do not miss this opportunity – click here for full programme details.

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