Why are retailers still ignoring mobile?
The mobile phone market has been growing rapidly over the last few years and phones are becoming smarter and contain more and more features as time goes on. Although consumers are using android and iPhone applications to assist with everything from eBay to Facebook, there is still a slow reaction from retailers to really tap into the mobile channel.
Findings have recently been released from the Outlook 2010 E-Commerce survey carried out by multichannel merchant, and it identified some interesting points. One of which is the continued slow uptake of mobile development as part of an overall ecommerce strategy by retailers. Essentially 75% of the respondents in the survey said they were currently not using any mobile commerce functionality at all and even had no plan to initiate any into their strategy for 2010.
This figure contrasts with the claim that 65% of retailers surveyed are looking into having their website redesigned in order to accommodate new website features such as social media tools, customer interaction or reviews, video integration and onsite blogs.
Is this important?
This to me is really surprising, as initially I would have expected that if no one was interested in pursuing mobile as an ecommerce channel it is because of website or online spending cutbacks rather than a direct avoidance of the mobile channel in general. My opinion may well be influenced because this is something our clients are looking at and have been investing in for quite a while now, and I had expected others to be doing the same. Or it could be because the growth of mobile has been widely reported and my own personal experience of online shopping from a mobile is now quite established. Either way I feel it necessary to look into the subject and try and justify why so many businesses are holding back with mobile development.
Firstly, I wanted to look at the 25% who do currently have some form of mobile development and plan to integrate more in the coming year. It is worth noting that this rise is up on 2009s growth, although this is hardly surprising given the growth in mobile technology in the last year (pushed by the release of Apples iPhone 3GS and the Google Android 2.0).
What is more concerning is the lack of innovative activity from the 25% that are currently developing in mobile. 10% of them are simply utilising mobile advertising, which is a good start but it hardly shows the respondents are embracing the full capabilities of mobile technology. Only 6.5% have a specific mobile friendly version of their ecommerce website, which I expected to be much higher. Nearly the same amount have an iPhone app (6%), although I imagine this is more a novelty for some rather than a true sales serving application.
So why is the uptake so slow?
Well one reason suggested by the survey is that retailers are not pushing mobile because consumers are simply not using the technology yet. Whilst this may seem hard to believe if you use your phone anything like me, the figures speak for themselves. The survey question about the frequency users browse and purchase products or services on their mobile phone revealed that only 13% of consumers use their mobile phone to purchase products online. While you can assume that this could be partly due to the fact businesses are not providing mobile friendly websites for the consumers to buy from, most smart phones are able to show any website in a usable way, certainly enough to go on and make a purchase.
The survey even suggests that only 27% use the mobile platform for browsing. Considering customers often use idle time to browse and get initial ideas about a purchase, and that a mobile is always at hand at these times then this figure is quite low.
Another reason suggested by econsultancy is that the development framework for setting up mobile commerce is still quite complicated and this is off putting for consumers. This is partly due to the large amount of different platforms and handsets that are currently available that need to be tailored to. Also, the channel is new and understanding how to make it work is a challenge which a lot of companies are not prepared to take up at the current time.
So we can see the take up of mobile commerce is quite slow by businesses, and this trend is likely to continue for the near future. The factors that could buck this trend would be consumers in general making more use of their mobile phones for shopping, whether it be for browsing or purchasing. Also some element of handset providers coming up with more standardised platforms and screen sizes will make this transition for companies easier and faster.
I believe we will see a wider range of companies selling their products and services more frequently on our mobile phones, just not as soon as you might have expected.Tweet