The mobile marketing message is spreading far and wide, most recently in Australia on the official Google Australia blog. According to Ross McDonald, head of retail, Google Australia and New Zealand, 2011 has been “a record-breaking year” for online retail in Australia. Shopping related searches are up 29% year-on-year, which points to the importance of the online channel for retailers in Australia. The most revealing finding that he shared was that shopping searches from mobile devices has increased 220% year-on-year, to the point that mobile accounts for one quarter of all Christmas shopping related Google searches this year.

This finding demonstrates that Australia has taken to the mobile channel in a big way. It looks like Aussies are more than comfortable with their mobile devices, and if the trend holds true, then mobile may be the way that many people shop for Christmas presents this holiday season. This comes as no surprise in a country which has the second highest smartphone penetration in the world. Google posits that more than 50% of Australian adults will own a smartphone, with 1 in 5 bypassing the PC to make online purchases with their mobile phones.

This has important implications for Australian retailers. More people than ever before are using mobile to find local businesses that are carrying the products they want. Mobile has the great advantage of making searching more convenient, because it allows people to search when they are away from their desktop PCs. Mobile search lets people find what they are looking for when they are out and about, perhaps when they are en route to their destinations, or even when they have stopped for a cup of coffee, or when the impulse to purchase something strikes them. It also means that Australian businesses who don’t have mobile websites (or whose websites aren’t optimised for mobile) run the risk of losing business, because customers who are searching for them will not be able to find them.

Australian businesses can take a few simple steps to avoid becoming invisible to this group of potential customers:

Think mobile. Australian business owners should ensure that their sites are optimised for mobile access, or redirect to mobile versions when accessed from mobile devices. This reduces frustration for mobile users, who often struggle with websites that do not render well on their devices.

Cover the basics. Make it easy for interested customers by including basic information such as location, store hours, contact numbers, and so on, prominently and clearly on the mobile website.

Show your stuff. The mobile website is a perfect opportunity to show off products and services and to give clients a sense of the kind of business in operation. Even simple sites can shine on mobile devices if the range of products on offer is clear and easy to understand.

Make a connection. Since most mobile devices also include voice communication facilities, including phone numbers is important. This lets potential customers call through if they have questions or if they are having trouble locating the store.

These measures can raise the profile of local businesses, and make them more accessible to people using mobile search. Naturally, there is much more that can be done on the mobile channel, but for a start, these simple steps can help savvy Australian businesses accommodate today’s mobile consumer – and perhaps help everyone have a happier and merrier Christmas!

Rohit Dadwal
BY Rohit Dadwal ON 7 December 2011
Managing Director, Mobile Marketing Association Asia Pacific Limited