Retailers slow to improve technology for mobile shopping – study

New online retail research by Frost and Sullivan has found that retailers appear to be failing to keep up with smartphone-savvy online shoppers. 65% of the population now own smartphones, 52% of which use them for mobile shopping or to assist with research. But only 30% of retailers have mobile websites and 21% have mobile apps.


The study found that of the on 120 smaller Australian Retailers Association members surveyed during June 2014, more than 50% had a website and more than 30% offered online retail purchasing capabilities.

Despite the increase in smartphone users and those who use their devices to assist with shopping, almost 40% of consumers that start researching a product on their smartphone actually end up buying it in-store.

Most shoppers using smartphones to assist with shopping do so for researching (29%) and evaluating products (19%), with only 4% actually making a purchase via smartphone and 3% writing reviews afterwards.

The study found the following top six mobile features that consumers valued from retailers:

  1. Free WiFi (68%),
  2. Stock level information (58%),
  3. Directions to relevant departments (57%),
  4. Customer reviews (50%),
  5. Product information (48%), and
  6. Being able to purchase using their smartphone (43%).

The study also revealed that while most retailers recognise the importance of developing a mobile strategy, many still face major barriers in doing so, particularly the cost and complexity of linking new systems designed to support mobility with existing in-store business systems.

Currently, only 6% of retailers in the study offer contactless terminals, although almost 20% plan to do so over the next 12 months as the technology becomes more widely available.

Currently 9% offer free in-store Wi-Fi and 22% have quick response (QR) codes in their stores.

Some retailers (7%) have moved towards improved in-store service by equipping their store staff with tablets that share product information, assist with local inventory availability and even facilitate online purchases from within the store.

Frost and Sullivan Australia and New Zealand managing director Mark Dougan said the rapid growth in ownership and usage of smartphones was revolutionising the way that Australian consumers shopped.

“The ability to access the Internet whilst on the move has transformed many aspects of consumer behaviour. Consumers are increasingly using their smartphones for shopping to research, compare, share, purchase and pay for merchandise.

“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.”

The Frost and Sullivan research was commissioned by cloud commerce platform NetSuite SuiteCommerce.

The 10 key insights from the ‘Connected Life’ report into Australia’s digital behaviours

Australians typically own nearly five online devices and spend more than three hours a day online for personal use, according to a new report  by global market researcher TNS.


TNS shared key insights from its ‘Connected Life’ report at the Digital Next Australia 2014 (DNA://14) conference in Sydney and Melbourne this week. The report is the world’s largest study of digital attitudes and behaviours across 50 countries.


The 10 key insights from TNS’ ‘Connected Life’ report 

1. Australia is one of the world’s most connected countries. On average Australians own 4.8 devices and spend 3.3 hours a day online on personal interests (eg. browsing, shopping, entertainment).

2. Connected home. 19% of consumers report they are connecting mobile devices to other devices in the home with another 28% expressing interest in using this technology in the next 12 months. This means a potential 47% market penetration in 2015.

3. Connected car and self. Similarly in cars, 16% of consumers report usage of in-car connectivity while another 18% express interest in future use. For smart or ‘quantified self’ devices that monitor biometrics, 18% report current usage with interest from a further 17%.

4. Online wins over TV. Australians spend an average of 3.3 hours online for personal use as compared to 2.2 hours watching TV. When you consider multi-screening (eg. watching TV while using another device), only 53% of TV time is undivided. Still TV is a viable channel during specific times of the day as below.

5. Time of day dictates the channel. Despite considerable channel fragmentation, consumers are showing signs of predictability at certain times of the day. For example, one third (31%) go online first thing in the morning, while TV is the more popular channel over dinner (36%).

6. Smartphone penetration as high as laptops. Smartphones grew 5% from last year to 75% which for the first time places the smartphone in line with laptop penetration. Smartphone penetration is highest among younger consumers yet interestingly as high as 60% amongst those aged 50+.

7. Tablets hit mainstream status in just four years. Tablets grew 16% from last year to 46% placing tablets firmly in the mainstream; this is considerable growth given tablets have only been in market since 2010. Additionally, tablets achieved at least 40% penetration in all age groups making this device an important channel.

8. The connected pathway to purchase. ‘Showrooming’, the act of evaluating products in store and later making a purchase online, has levelled off at just over 40%. However, a deeper look shows online and offline experiences melding into a complex dance. On average, there are seven touch-points that exert influence (e.g. seeing an advertisement, reading consumer reviews, evaluating competing products, looking for offers) yet this still often leads to an in-store purchase – a process called ‘web-rooming’.

9. Broadcast is out; engagement is in. The demand for more media, more often is limitless. In this new hyper-connected world, people are consuming more advertising messages than ever before but with the expectation that brands know them and their needs.

10. Micro-segmentation is essential. Media and device fragmentation means there are a wealth of potential ways to reach people. Understanding these patterns allows the targeting of individuals and groups to be far more precise and ultimately delivers against both long and short term marketing objectives with greater accuracy.


TNS Australia executive director Alistair Leathwood said with tremendous growth and complexity of the digital environment, marketers would experience both challenges and opportunities.

“We should be marketing by occasions, needs, attitudes and the various mindsets for different media, reaching customers through specific channels at specific times of the day,” Leathwood said.

Other speakers at the Digital Next Australia 2014 conference included Burston-Marsteller chief operating officer Margaret Key, GroupM’s Xaxis Australia general manager Esther Carlsen and Y&R Group chief digital officer Rod Hudson.


Mobile online shopping and banking quadrupled over three years: ACMA

Mobile banking, paying bills and shopping on mobile are becoming the norm, with ACMA research showing the number of adult Australians using m-commerce more than quadrupled in the last three years.


New research from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) shows 3.4 million or 41% of Australians over 18 used an m-commerce service during December 2013, a 448% increase since 2010.

People aged between 25 and 34 showed the most significant increase in use of m-commerce (31%), with more than half (55%) engaging in mobile banking transactions or shopping on their phones.

The ACMA found m-commerce transactions were most used for banking (85% of people), while 57% of people used their mobile phones for online shopping.

But despite an increase in m-commerce, most online transactions were still conducted using PCs. The number of online banking transactions via a PC was 27 percentage points higher than that of banking transactions using mobiles.


smartphoneAustralian population’s smartphone saturation

Digital marketing insights company eMarketer found Australia to be among the most saturated populations for smartphone use, having passed 50% in 2013.

The US and UK are both following, with the number of smartphone users set to reach 50% of those countries’ total populations this year.

South Korea leads the way in smartphone saturation, having passed the 50% mark back in 2012, while China is still catching up and is expected to reach 50% by 2018.


Thinking like a customer: the value of customer journey mapping

Customer journey mapping and experience design are among the most powerful tools marketers can use for innovating and meeting customer expectations – allowing diagnosis of customer experience issues and formulation of innovative and differentiated brand experiences – but retailers are failing to come to grips with the modern shopper’s path to purchase.

As smartphone and tablet ownership becomes commonplace, mobile shopping is becoming mainstream. The latest ecommerce data out of the US from web measurement firm ComScore shows that shoppers spent $54.54 billion via PCs and mobile devices in Q2 this year – $4.7 billion of it via mobile devices, which represents a 24% increase compared to the same period last year.

Interestingly, in ‘Key Digital Trends for Midyear 2013: The Fragmentation of Mobile’, eMarketer reports that the diverging uses of smartphones and tablets means that marketers need to stop thinking about mobile as a singular category. Tablets, with their larger screens, offer a better experience for activities such as entertainment and shopping. On the other hand, the pocket-sized smartphone is more of a shopping companion en route to and in store.

Mobile devices used on the couch

According to Nielsen, more than two-thirds of US smartphone shoppers and four out of five tablet shoppers use their devices most frequently in the home, often with one eye on the TV. So even though smartphones and tablets offer the convenience of shopping on the go, it seems like the vast majority of tablet and smartphone shoppers who make a purchase with their device prefer the comfort of their couch while they shop.

Indeed, when it comes to actual purchasing, eMarketer says there’s a stark contrast between the behaviour of smartphone owners and their tablet owning counterparts. Nearly 71 million tablet owners will make purchases via their device this year, compared with 53 million buyers using smartphones. This distinction is critically important and highlights why marketers need to think like a customer.

Over here, according to data published in May this year from research firm Frost & Sullivan, three out of 10 internet users in Australia made a retail purchase within the previous 12 months via their smartphone. Another 19% made a purchase on their tablet.

Failing to meet customer expectations

Despite Australians embracing everything mobile, too many Australian retailers fail to meet customer expectations. For example, a poor experience on a smartphone or failing to accommodate individuals who prefer to shop via their tablets means that retailers will miss out on a growing proportion of couch commerce which spikes after 8pm at night.

Customers expect a seamless view of the retailer, whether on the retailer’s website, its social media pages, its mobile shopping applications or in store. Customers expect to find consistent prices, availability, payment methods and promotions across all channels. Of course you need to take advantage of the different screens in the way you present the information, but the inherent information should be the same.

Thinking like a customer will help you meet these increasingly complex demands. It’s all about taking a holistic approach to marketing and facilitating an end-to-end customer experience across websites, mobile sites and apps, tablet sites and apps, social media, email and more.

After all, every transaction is an opportunity to strengthen a relationship – or to lose it. So businesses can use everything they know about a customer to personalise and maximise the transaction at every touchpoint and across every business channel.

Looking at the entire customer journey, not just specific channels, customer journey mapping and experience design are among the most powerful tools marketers can use for innovating and meeting customer expectations. This process of discovery will allow you to diagnose customer experience issues and formulate innovative and differentiated brand experiences that meet your customer expectations and deliver on brand promises.

The more you understand the journey, the better you can align the vast array of engagement tactics and digital tools available to you and show the value proposition between marketing activities and financial outcomes.


Mobile will take 50% of budget in 2017, but held back by skills gap: study

Marketers will spend 50% of their budgets on mobile by 2017, but for the moment are hampered by their lack of understanding of the medium and difficulties in quantifying return on investment, according to Experian Marketing Services.

Only 4% of the 320 marketers involved in Experian’s mobile marketing study are regularly implementing mobile marketing activities, despite a widespread belief it will be one of the most important ways to communicate with customers in the future.

Head of research and consulting at Experian, Dave Audley, puts the slow uptake of mobile down to three key reasons: a skills gap in the industry, difficulty in demonstrating ROI and the tug of war for budgets between traditional and new channels.

“There’s some confusion and difficulty when it comes to budget allocation,” Audley says. “Marketers are finding its quite difficult to quantify return on investment by channel. Organisations are reluctant or not committing to investing in the [mobile] channel just yet until they fell confident that they can measure the return that they get.”

Mobile has also added another layer of the complexity to the tug of war for budget between traditional channels and new, Audley adds. “Rather than out with the old in and with the new, organisations are looking at retaining old channels; traditional offline channels are also becoming increasingly important.

“Finding the priority to put the focus that’s needed into making a successful mobile strategy come to life is quite a challenge.”

As a result, almost six in 10 are yet to test the waters with mobile, while 41% have created a strategy but haven’t started implementing it.

When asked to rate the importance of marketing channels, 53% of marketers said face-to-face communication was one of the top three most important channels. Email was rated by 50% of marketers as a top-three channel, and social media mentioned by 42% of marketers as a top three channel.

Early adopters of mobile report good results, the study found. The vast majority of respondents believed the various mobile techniques asked in the study to be effective, with mobile-optimised websites, m-commerce and MMS emerging as the most likely to be perceived as ‘highly effective’.

Email ranked down the list slightly, while custom apps were the most likely to be perceived as ineffective.

Search, display and video pre-roll were not asked as part of the study.

Perceived effectiveness of mobile techniques among marketers


“In the next five years Experian predicts more than 50% of marketing budgets will be associated with mobile, particularly as traditional, above the line channels, such as TV and billboards become more interactive and entwined with mobile,” Audley predicts.

“Clever companies will integrate mobile with existing channels, without compromising other activity. Because mobile is cost effective, easy to implement and is nimble, it creates a dynamic platform where brands can create a two-way dialogue.”


Trend report: Tech dichotomy creates hunger for both virtual and real world experiences

Technology will be embedded into everyday objects, smartphones will become as much a part of our identity as our fingerprints and retail will venture beyond bricks and clicks in 2013 – a reality that consumers will both reject and embrace, JWT forecasts.

In its eighth annual trends report, the marcomms agency predicts that the rapid advance of technology will see it embedded into everyday life more pervasively, creating infinite avenues for personalisation while also creating opportunities for brands to connect in more human ways.

“In our forecast of trends for the near future, new technology continues to take centre stage, as we see major shifts tied to warp-speed developments in mobile, social and data technologies,” says Ann Mack, director of trendspotting for JWT.

“Many of our trends reflect how businesses are driving, leveraging or counteracting technology’s omnipresence in our lives, and how consumers are responding to its pull.”

JWT expects everyday objects, from eyeglasses to socks to bikes, to become smart helping us to measure, navigate and augment the world. At the same time, the smartphone will become a “de facto fingerprint” as it evolves into a wallet, keys, health consultant and more, to become a reflection of our identity all in one place.

The explosion of data that will result from this pervasive digitisation will afford brands the opportunity to proactively personalise offers and communications more precisely, the report says. “As we generate more data than ever and as data analysis gets more sophisticated, brands will be able to predict what a customer needs or wants. Predictive personalisation will result in very precise offers and communications.”

But what technology gives people with one hand, it takes with the other – creating another opportunity for brands to give something real world experiences back. The theme of de-teching from last year’s report has been expanded upon to encompass a need for sensory stimulation, as people’s lives become more virtual. Brands will look for more ways to ramp up stimuli, to create more poignant products and experiences, the report predicts.

Ten trends have been identified by the trendwatcher, with some of the other key shifts being:

  • Everything is retail: Shopping is shifting from an activity that takes place in physical stores or online to a value exchange that can play out in multiple new and novel ways. Since almost anything can be a retail channel, thanks largely to mobile technology, brands must get increasingly creative in where and how they sell their goods.
  • Peer power: As the peer-to-peer marketplace expands in size and scope – moving beyond goods to a wide range of services – it will increasingly upend major industries from hospitality and education to tourism and transportation. For example, peer-to-peer lodging companies, such as Airbnb, Wimdu and 9flats, are challenging traditional hotels by enabling consumers to host travelers in a wide variety of often unique and affordable accommodations, from couches to rooms to full homes.
  • Going public in private: In an era when living publicly is becoming the default, people are coming up with creative ways to carve out private spaces in their lives. Rather than rejecting today’s ubiquitous social media and sharing tools outright, we’re reaping all the benefits of maintaining a vibrant digital identity while gradually defining and managing a new notion of privacy for the 21st century.
  • Play as a competitive advantage: Adults will increasingly adopt for themselves the revitalised idea that kids should have plenty of unstructured play to balance out today’s plethora of organized and tech-based activities. There will be a growing realisation that unstructured time begets more imagination, creativity and innovation – all competitive advantages. For example, Spacious, a recently formed organisation in Washington, D.C., champions the idea of adult play and has sponsored events such as an ‘adult recess’ that included pie-throwing and games of Twister.

The report also predicts that as stress gets more widely recognised as a serious and costly issue, governments and brands will ramp up efforts to prevent or reduce it. It puts a spotlight on health, with two separate trends examining the rising awareness around the impact of stress and happiness on well-being and how businesses are addressing it, in recognition of the fact that happiness and health go hand in hand.

JWT’s ‘10 Trends for 2013’ is the result of quantitative, qualitative and desk research conducted throughout the year across more than two dozen markets.


Mobile shopping becomes weekly habit for consumers

Shopping is the third most popular activity conducted on smartphones and most mobile shoppers use their phone for shopping on at least a weekly basis, a study has found.

The research, conducted on a sample of 1860 online shoppers by price comparison site Getprice, found that online shopping trumps search engines for frequency of use and places behind only reading news and social networking in the popularity stakes.

Director of product and marketing at Getprice David Whiteman said the findings were reflective of the battles retailers were facing in connecting with audiences.

“Globally and locally, the past year has been a challenging one for retail. Retail has been experiencing its own ‘two speed economy’ with traditional retailers being forced to re-think their marketing strategies,” Whiteman says.

“This new world presents challenges but also many opportunities for retailers. It is now a ‘consumer’s market’ where retailers need to adapt to suit ever-changing consumption behaviours.”

The study confirmed some widely held views on the drivers behind online shopping, namely that price comparison still remains the single top objective for online shoppers while physically seeing a product is the top reason for purchasing offline, although its importance has declined by 15% since 2010.

Shopping online from overseas retailers is driven predominantly by more competitive prices and the availability of products not found in Australia attracting shoppers, with 75% and 51% respectively nominating these reasons as factors.

It also found that immediacy, or instant gratification and avoiding shipping costs have become even more important in the minds of shoppers, increasing in importance since the survey was last conducted.


Results from the survey were released on 30 August 2012, but fieldwork was conducted between December 2011 and February 2012.

One in two retailers now use m-commerce, as mobile becomes top priority

Mobile commerce has hit the tipping point with the majority of Australian retailers now selling via mobile devices, according to a study.

Presented at the Online Retailer Conference & eCommerce Expo in Sydney this morning, Forrester’s study found that 55% of online retailers are now selling through an avenue that is accessible on mobile, a figure that has grown from 39% in 2011.

But not only has the use of mobile grown, it has also surged to the top of the investment priority list, overtaking the core ecommerce platform as the most commonly cited priority for the future. Among those already selling via the mobile web, 49% said that mobile sites were a top investment priority for the year ahead. Furthermore, 54% of multichannel retailers and 29% of pure-play online retailers say mobile sites are now a top technology investment priority for the year ahead.

Senior analyst at Forrester Research, Steven Noble, noted that in the three years that Forrester has conducted the survey proficiency with the use of connected sales channels has improved dramatically.

“Previously, we’d found retailers that were struggling to find enough time to address even basic issues like the need for good product photography,” Noble told attendees of the conference. “This time around we found significant investment programs such as mobile commerce usage and uptake.”

However, despite the growth of mobile and apps, Australian retailers still take quite a narrow approach to mobile, the study found. Most are focused on the purchasing phase and are neglecting the role that mobile commerce could play within the wider customer life cycle, including marketing or customer service. Only 5% are currently using mobile channel usage data to better understand their customers.

Also speaking at today’s conference was Carol Steinberg of ShopNBC, Tim Kilroy from  Wayfair and Amy Africa from Eight by Eight. Tomorrow will see presenters from and Forrester Research.

The smartphone as a retail navigation device [infographic]

Smartphones: they can help you navigate foreign cities, local eateries, real estate and even the field of nearby singles waiting to beat down your door. They can also help you navigate the retail landscape, a fact retailers are becoming increasingly wary of. Marketing presents, and explains, its original infographic on how the smartphone is increasingly being used as a personal shopping assistant below.

As of February this year, one in three smartphone owners had used their device in-store to aid the shopping process, according to TNS’ ‘Joining the Dots’ study, a figure that’s likely to have jumped since. The savvy shoppers who use their phone as a secondary shopping channel while they browse the aisles bounce back and forth between bricks- and-mortar and online merchants, sniffing out the best products and the best deals. They seek the best of both worlds, walking the showroom for a tactile experience with products or the instant gratification of buying on the spot, and checking their phone for price comparisons, independent reviews or more detailed information.

Some categories lend themselves to the online world better than others, due in part to their nature and in part to the degree to which the category has travelled online. Electronics stands out as the most common category shopped in unison, with 79% having accessed their phone as a secondary information channel while in-store. The practice can easily lure shoppers away – 34% state they would buy online if they found something 10% cheaper, a figure that jumps to 64% if the price is 20% cheaper.

For retailers, this looms as a potential loss of control. The trend has been described as one of the factors contributing to the dwindling fortunes of American retailer Best Buy, as consumers take advantage of their well-stocked showrooms and knowledgeable staff to research products they intend to buy elsewhere. But TNS researcher, Peter Firth, says it can also be an opportunity for the retail sector. “It’s about maintaining the purchase,” Firth says. “While people are in your store, you have some control over what they purchase. If you can facilitate the purchase while the shopper’s there by offering some reward, some incentive, all the information they need or access to consumer reviews, it cuts down the risk of shoppers going home to look online or buying from elsewhere.”

For higher involvement categories in particular, the mobile is in fact a catalyst for purchase behaviour, a factor that can lose a sale but an opportunity that can be seized to keep a sale also. The mobile can be used as a tool for the retailer to connect the dots between what the consumer appreciates about bricks-and-mortar stores and what they crave from the online world. In the research, which looked specifically at this trend, shoppers were asked about the last purchase they made in-store with the assistance of a mobile device. Taking the high involvement electronics category as an example, 71% of shoppers state they wouldn’t have bought the product they did or would have visited other stores if they hadn’t had their phone on them to check their options. This means for those who are accustomed to using the phone, almost three in four purchases would have gone begging, demonstrating just how important it’s become in their decision making process.

The mobile web emerged as the most commonly accessed point of secondary research, with the website of the retailer currently being shopped and price comparison sites the most popular destinations. Apps show lower use currently, but high future demand, with 45% rating them as an ideal shopping assistant tool and 43% rating apps with barcode scanners as desirable.

As part of TNS’ study, five shopping related mobile services were tested with consumers, including a shopper rewards app, billboard grocery shopping, recipe suggestions and an ideas and inspiration stimulator. The rewards app, defined as a service that rewarded shoppers with points redeemable for discounts, emerged as the most popular option. It’s a proposition already in action in the US, where Shopkick has proven popular with shoppers.

Other uses of the phone in-store which proved popular among consumers were using it to get real-time advice from friends. Two retailers recently employed strategies encouraging this behaviour, gaining them social media buzz in the process – Diesel who installed webcams outside change rooms for shoppers could post pictures of outfits to Facebook and receive real time feedback and Sportsgirl who installed a digital mirror in a Melbourne store.

Short of investing in an innovative mobile solution, there are a number of commonly voiced tips for retailers to put into practice. Many are widely known, but not so widely implemented, such as ensuring your website is optimised for mobile. Optimisation of your store in mobile directories, such as Google Places, is also important, so that people searching by current location can find you. Incorporating social elements into your mobile content, like Facebook Connect, and ensuring the content is shareable can help to further spread word of your offer via mobile. And if you’ve got information online or offers to direct shoppers’ attention to, cross promote them in-store and encourage interaction via the mobile device so that your destination is the one they end up at, not a competitor’s.

However popular online retailing may become – it accounted for 5% of retail sales in 2011 according to the NAB’s Online Retail Index, compared to 7.5% in the US and almost 10% in the UK – the real world store still fills many needs. It will retain its place as a vital link in the retail chain, and possibly even be aided by the smartphone’s ability to join the dots between the real and virtual worlds.

Click to view in full screen.

Mobile commerce taking off among smartphone owners

Google has release data on mobile commerce behaviour as well as other aspects of mobile phone usage, in a study that focusses solely on smartphones.

Our Mobile Planet’, conducted in quarter one of 2012, discovered that 28% of smartphone owners have purchased a product or service on their device, of which 60% had made a recent purchase.

Among mobile shoppers there exists a hard-core group of users who purchase from their mobile frequently: 8% do so daily and a further 10% on a weekly basis. Mixed payment methods are used, with 60% using PayPal, but 48% also using credit or debit cards. A select few opt for an invoice or to complete the transaction using a gift card or web payment.

The barriers to making a purchase were investigated among those that were yet to do so, revealing that 68% simply prefer their PC or laptop to buy online, 36% don’t feel secure making the purchase on their device, 11% found it too complicated and 6% found the payment process specifically too complex.

Why have you not made a purchase using your smartphone?

Our Mobile Planet chart

Looking forward, 28% expect to make more purchases via their smartphone in the next twelve months, 45% do not expect to start accessing mobile stores, and a further 27% were unsure how their mobile commerce behaviour would evolve.

The study was commissioned by Google and conducted by Ipsos MediaCT in partnership with the Mobile Marketing Association and the Interactive Advertising Bureau.