While around 65 percent of Australians own a smartphone, new research from Frost & Sullivan reveals that retailers are failing to leverage the opportunity that this offers.
The Frost & Sullivan white paper Mobility: The New Opportunity for Australian Retailers, examines how consumers are using smartphones as a key part of the shopping process, how retailers are adapting, and outlines best practices for rolling out a mobility strategy.
Key highlights of the report include:
– 52 percent of smartphone users now use their devices to assist them in the shopping process – an increase from about 1/3rd in 2011;
– Less than 30 percent of retailers offer a ‘mobile-optimised’ website and only 21 percent have so far developed an app for their customers;
– Consumers most want WiFi availability (68 percent) and access to information on stock levels (58 percent);
– Over 50 percent of retailers believe their current software could be improved for mobile commerce;
– 70 percent of Australian consumers are now using multiple channels to shop, and 36 percent have shopped both online and in-store with the same retailer in the past 12 months;
– Almost 40 percent of consumers who start by researching a product on their smartphone, actually end up buying it in-store;
– Targeted SMS messages sent to customers’ mobiles are much more likely to be read than other marketing techniques such as mobile banner advertising. An estimated 95 percent of SMS messages are opened by the recipient, much higher than the equivalent for email.
As part of the study, 120 smaller retailers who are members of the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), were surveyed.
‘Despite the huge growth in mobile commerce, many Australian retailers still have a long way to go in their implementation of mobility strategies and risk losing out to those already meeting consumers’ demands for mobility, the white paper stated.
‘Only a small percentage of retailers are currently providing services such as a mobile app, QR codes or smartphone payment mechanisms.’
Seventy-five percent of the retailers surveyed reporting that they collect customer data such as names, email addresses or mobile phone numbers. But few retailers are currently using this data as part of marketing campaigns. Only one-quarter of retailers currently send targeted SMS or MMS messages to their customers’ mobile phones, and amongst smaller retail chains only one-fifth currently do so.
Currently only 7 percent of small retailers in Australia are providing their sales staff with tablets, and thus are missing out on a major opportunity to enhance in-store service levels and improve customer satisfaction. Staff with tablets can share product information with customers, assist with local inventory availability, facilitate online purchases from within the store – and read the latest industry news in Photo Counter!
Tablets can be used as mobile POS terminals, allowing store staff to take payments on the retail floor without the consumer needing to queue at the check-out and even make an online purchase.
The challenges that retailers report in implementing mobility solutions include:
• Hardware costs – for example, investing in tablets for sales staff;
• System integration and design costs – for example, building an app or a m-site and linking it to the main operating systems; and
• Lack of internal resources – for example, lack of internal IT staff who can develop an app or an m-site.