Too few retailers have a solid mobile presence today; however, 41% plan to have a transactional mobile site or application in place within the next year, according to the results from a new research partnership between the Association for Interactive Media and Entertainment (AIME), the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG). The study found that while mobile commerce is still very much at the consideration stage, the majority of retailers surveyed expect mobile commerce to be part of their main strategy within the next 12 months.

eDigital Research, commissioned by AIME, the IAB and the IMRG, surveyed 140 marketing professionals from the retail, advertising and mobile service provider sectors in the UK to understand attitudes, behaviours and perceived challenges to mobile commerce. Over half (59%) of the senior-level representatives from UK retail brands that took part expected their mobile revenues to increase over the next 12 months, and 94% saw it as a real opportunity for their business.

More retailers need to follow their audiences on mobile

The research highlights the need for retailers to move faster to keep with the consumers already seeking out retail websites via their mobile phones. Each month in the UK, a staggering 4.2 million consumers are visiting retailers’ websites using the mobile Internet (GSMA and comScore, 2010).

However, just four of the top 20 most frequently visited retailer websites are presently optimised for mobile, and only eight of the top 20 have any kind of mobile application for smartphones like the iPhone, Blackberry or Android powered devices. This means that many retailers could be missing out on additional revenues from the ready and willing mobile consumer traffic to their sites.

Whilst most retailers believe their mobile revenues will increase over the next few years, currently around 63% either make less than 1% of their total revenues via mobile, or don’t measure their mobile revenues at all at present, citing a lack of knowledge and expertise about the mobile platform. However, the research found that over half (59%) of the senior-level representatives from UK retail brands who took part in the survey expected their mobile revenues to increase over the next 12 months, and 94% saw it as a real opportunity for their business.

Alex Kozloff, mobile manager for the Internet Advertising Bureau said: “For brands, extending their presence onto mobile has been a daunting prospect, simply due to the new jargon, technologies and tricks of the trade that need to be understood in order to make the most of the medium. But with UK consumers already seeking out brands on their mobile phones, in particular retailers, it really is essential that marketers ensure the mobile experience they offer is just as useful, usable and engaging as their other properties, both on and offline.”

Edward Boddington, Chairman of AIME and CEO of Harvest Media, commented: “The results of this survey commissioned by these three leading trade associations clearly demonstrates the opportunity for M-Commerce to develop rapidly over the next 24 months from a GBP500m industry today. Increasingly, consumers are looking for best deals, especially in a tough economy and mobile represents the most convenient tool for instant redemption in the form of coupons and also loyalty clubs.”

Andrew McClelland, Director of Operations at IMRG said: “Consumers are once again driving demand for a new, convenient shopping channel, just as they did in the early days of online retailing. This time around, the cultural shift required for retailers to recognise this demand is much smaller and in many cases requires the optimisation of an existing web presence rather than a ‘ground-up’ development of a new technology. However, there is a thirst for knowledge with in the retail sector to best understand how a mobile channel fits with their customer proposition.”

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