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60% of retailers are using mobile, though most haven’t optimised their websites for small screens finds our survey

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Nearly 60% of retailers are using mobile in some way, shape or form, with most using it for customer contact, delivery notification and special offers, as well as for marketing using text, finds the M-Retailing/Sponge survey conducted online over the past month. Encouragingly, almost 70% claim that mobile is vital in extending branding and marketing activities and two thirds think it likely that they will have adopted some use of mobile within the next 12 months.

The survey, which attracted 133 respondents from across the retailing sector, finds that of the 58.9% who are using mobile, 56.8% are using it for customers contact via text to inform of delivery times, stock alerts, special offers and the like, while 51.4% are also using it for marketing. A heart warming 35.1% are using it to allow purchasing of goods and services, although only 32% of respondents have optimized their e-commerce websites for mobile use.

Of those that have optimised their websites for mobile use, the bulk (50%) use their mobile site again for customer communication and brand support. 45% are using these sites, however, for transactions.

Those that haven’t optimised their e-commerce sites for mobile, many have not done so because they cannot see the advantages that it gives when weighed up against the cost and complexity of undertaking such a process.

Despite nearly 40% of retailers quizzed not having used mobile in any form, those that have have seen some great results. 64% have seen huge positive customer feedback from going mobile, as it allows consumers to contact and interact with the brand wherever they are. On a more specific level, 41% have seen sales grow through the new channel and just under 30% have seen mobile cut staff costs and make their businesses more efficient.

Surprisingly, two thirds of those operating a multi-channel strategy have not used mobile to drive footfall to stores, while a staggering three quarters of online only retailers have look to mobile to drive traffic to their websites. This reveals that many in the retail industry are still viewing mobile in isolation, rather than as the glue that holds all other retail channels together, as is widely purported my mobile’s protagonists.

The survey also reveals that the commonly held view that most retailers are opting to have an app in lieu of a mobile retail strategy is not quite the case. Of those questioned in our survey with Sponge, 67% didn’t have an app – although a similar number expected to have one within 12 months, with 54% of those doing so “to offer something entertaining to our customers,” according to feedback on the survey. Worryingly, a quarter of those looking to build an app are likely to do so “because everyone else is”.

On the marketing front – which is widely seen by many as the strength of mobile in retail – only a third of companies questioned have so far used mobile as a direct response channel for your traditional marketing campaigns, with the vast majority of these doing so in print advertising and at point of sale, rather than through any other medium. Only 42% of those not using SMS in marketing will be doing so within 12 months, roughly on a par with the 41% who say they won’t be doing it at all – rather dashing the hopes of many in the mobile marketing sphere that there is a huge opportunity around retailers for m-marketing.

While this may be discouraging to the marketing community, mobile at large has every right to be bullish about the future of mobile retailing. While the numbers in the survey point, at best, to tentative steps being taken into using mobile (and at worst a distinct lack of interest in it) more than 90% of respondents do see themselves using mobile in retail in some form in the next two years, driven by the need to compete, the need to keep up with competitors and the need for efficiency gains and better customer perception of the brand.

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