New research by business consulting firm, Frost & Sullivan, suggests that Australian retailers are lagging behind in the mobile e-commerce stakes, with only 21 percent of those surveyed claiming development of a mobile app for customers.
In fact, the research found that fewer than 30 percent of survey respondents offered a mobile-optimised website, and of the 21 percent that did have mobile apps, they were predominantly used to provide information to customers on their nearest store, opening hours and similar information — not for purchases online.
The study, which took in 120 Australian Retailers Association members, also revealed that while Australian retailers are making progress in building their online capabilities, with over 50 percent now having a website, only 30 percent offered online purchasing capabilities.
According to Frost & Sullivan, the retailers that did provide mobile apps were generally providing them as part of an omnichannel strategy, although a third of retailers still primarily regarded the mobile app as a way to stimulate traffic into physical stores.
Many small retailers, according to the research, are still failing to provide the in-store facilities that encourage use of mobile devices by their consumers. Only nine percent offer free in-store Wi-Fi and only 22 percent currently have Quick Response (QR) codes in their stores.
The study, which was carried out in June, revealed that while most retailers recognised the importance of developing a mobile strategy, many still faced major barriers in doing so, particularly the cost and complexity of linking new systems designed to support mobility with existing in-store business systems.
"The rapid growth in ownership and usage of smartphones is revolutionising the way that Australian consumers shop," said Mark Dougan, managing director for Australia and New Zealand at Frost & Sullivan. "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."
For Dougan, Australian retailers need to start offering customers multiple electronic touch points if they want to survive in a rapidly changing retail environment in which companies like eBay and Amazon are on top.
"Australia's consumers are demanding that retailers provide services and features to support them in their omnichannel shopping process," said Dougan. "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."