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73% of large US retailers have a mobile strategy in place, but 20% still think it’s unproven, RIM study finds

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Almost three quarters of large US retailers have a mobile retail strategy, finds a study carried out by Forbes Insights sponsored by Research In Motion, the makers of the BlackBerry, but as many as 20% still see it as unproven and are taking a step by step approach to using it to see where it really delivers benefits.

73% of US. retailers surveyed for the report say they have some type of mobile initiative in place, while 20% are in the process of evaluating the mobile channel, the study finds. All retailers in the poll had multiple locations and annual revenues of $100 million or more.

However, despite the overall optimism, a significant 20% say mobile, while promising, is unproven, and they are taking an incremental approach to it. Additionally 23% say they are developing mobile tools mainly to keep up with competitors. Still a large 47% say they believe that by being the first to enable mobile engagement they will earn a better chance of establishing intimacy and loyalty with customers.

“Retailers are becoming increasingly aware of the value of smartphone-equipped customers,” the study says. “In-store shoppers can research products and prices on their handsets using cameras, bar code scanners, and other mobile applications. Retailers can provide immediate incentives based on these searches or by knowing the specific in-store location of the shopper via geo-tracking. The customer can make the purchase in-store or over a mobile handset.”

The most prevalent mobile tool used by retailers is the mobile site, deployed by 36% of retailers and planned for over the next year by 40%. That was followed by:

• Mobile advertising: 35% deployed, 41% planned for in next year

• Mobile web content: 34% deployed, 36% planned

• Downloadable apps: 33% deployed, 44% planned

• Mobile coupons: 29% deployed, 39% planned

• Outbound text messages: 27% deployed, 29% planned

• Proximity marketing: 24% deployed, 32% planned

• Paid mobile search: 24% deployed, 23% planned

• Downloadable brand-related content: 18% deployed, 25% planned.

So, why do retailers take the time and energy to enter mobile? The top answers were:

• Improving customer service: 37%

• Enhancing customer loyalty: 36%

• Providing an enhanced or integrated customer experience: 34%

• Desire to take advantage of new advertising opportunities: 26%.

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