Mobile Marketing

Australian Retailers Can Go Straight to Mobile

New research from Frost and Sullivan has found that Australian retailers are not adapting to the way their customers use mobile devices when shopping.  The study, which surveyed 120 Australian retail businesses looked at smaller retailers with less than 50 outlets and was designed to discover how these businesses were adapting to the growing use of mobile devices as a regular part of the shopping process.

Frost and Sullivan Australia and New Zealand managing director Mark Dougan said “Australia’s consumers are demanding that retailers provide services and features to support them in their omnichannel shopping process. Those retailers who fail to respond to the new era of mobility in shopping face being isolated and left behind as the behaviours of their customers change.”

Retailers in Australia have generally been slow to respond to opportunities presented by smartphone and tablet savvy shoppers. According to the research, only 30% have mobile websites and 21% have mobile apps.  This seems low, but considering just over 50% have a website at all, it’s actually surprising to see this much mobile activity.  With only around 30% of surveyed businesses offering online shopping, it must seem unmanageably complex for most small retailers contemplating the digital divide.  But perhaps smaller retailers are in a better position to leapfrog online and jump straight into mobile.

Local retail businesses are in a great position to attract custom by appealing to smartphone users.  Almost 40% of consumers that start researching a product on their smartphone actually end up buying it in-store.  Smaller businesses have less stock to manage and are often less hampered by complex legacy systems.  A retailer without any online presence can move directly to mobile without worrying about the complexity of mobilising existing content or online shopping engines.

Currently only 9% of retailers offer free in-store Wi-Fi, but local retailers are easily in the position to turn on this service.  Simultaneously they can make information about products available on a mobile site to appeal to the 29% of smartphone shoppers who use their phone to research.

Although only 6% of retailers in the study offer contactless terminals, almost 20% plan to do so over the next 12 months. A variety of mobile retail payment solutions are now available, and can be integrated with existing POS systems.  Admittedly this can become complex if existing systems are not compatible, but with 43% of smartphone shoppers keen to purchase using their smartphone, this is likely to offer a competitive advantage.  For smaller retailers this is less of an overhead than those with hundreds of outlets.

According to the report 7% of retailers equip their store staff with tablets that share product information, details about inventory and some even use the device for online purchasing in store.  Again, this could be a low cost entry point for retailers unsure about how to take their first steps in this area.

Although this report highlights the low activity currently taking place within Australian retail, I think it actually represents a significant opportunity for retailers, particular smaller local retailers.  Many of these have not made big investments in online and digital capability.  When they do eventually choose to jump into the digital market, many will go direct to mobile.  They will have the advantage of limited distraction and being able to design mobile solutions that make sense intuitively, without have to decommission and redesign existing systems.

The Frost and Sullivan research was commissioned by cloud commerce platform NetSuite SuiteCommerce.  The whitepaper  Mobility: The New Opportunity for Australia’s Retailers is available to download from the NetSuite website.

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