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.

Michelle Herbison
BY Michelle Herbison ON 29 July 2014
Assistant editor, Marketing Magazine.