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Credit where credit’s due

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While the mobile retailing world abounds with tales of how this is going to be a mobile Christmas and how mobile is going to account for varying percentages of online sales this year, many advocates of mobile – from Google downwards – are starting to get itchy that even with this gung-ho view of mobile’s centrality to retail is overlooking the broader picture: a picture where mobile not only fills the frame, but is the frame.

Speaking at the Mobile Marketing Association’s (MMA) annual UK jamboree in London this week, outgoing mobile and social advertising sales director (NACE) at Google, Ian Carrington, outlined how Google is keen to look at giving mobile “the credit it deserves in generating a sale and to help retailers really understand the role and value of mobile”, he told the conference.

In his view most retailers attribute no value to mobile unless it is the channel through which a purchase is actually made. This is despite the fact that mobile is instrumental in most aspects of the sales ‘journey’ made by consumers. And within this, Carrington attributes everything from making phone calls to retailers to show rooming to couch commerce to multiple device shopping as showing quite how powerful mobile has become within the retail experience.

According to Google’s own research 20% of shoppers change their mind about what they are going to buy – often spending more money – when in store thanks to mobile (be it through research, deals or talking to their friends and family). Further 67% of sales start on a mobile and end up being completed either on PC, tablet or in-store.

This has all been backed up by research by ResponseTap which shows that just 0.4% of browsing on a smartphone results in a transaction – however when you factor in phone calls made to retailers this triples to 1.3%. And these sales are not tracked as ‘mobile’.

While these ResponseTap figures may be just a fraction of transactions and a minor part of how the retail journey works they are indicative of how mobile doesn’t get the kudos it deserves.

And this isn’t just about mobile not getting credit – it has a high impact on how retailers view how to run their business. Take marketing: typically marketing spend is apportioned along the lines of where the spends come from. Looking at how mobile is not viewed for its role in influencing a purchase rather than completing it means that mobile gets short changed when marketing budgets are allocated.

This has a hugely detrimental effect on the business. While the likes of Google, Amazon, eBay and more really get that the world is going mobile, 53% of businesses don’t have mobile optimised sites, according to Google’s stats. Many more don’t have apps. Most don’t look at the true role mobile plays in the sales process and so don’t use it properly as a marketing and dialogue tool.

And this is costing business dear. Consumers want to use mobile in various ways around ‘shopping’ and, while that may not necessarily be in buying stuff on mobile, being ready for whatever aspect of mobile draws them to you is the key to omni-channel retailing.

This Christmas will undoubtedly be a mobile one. The stats we shall see post-Yule will be that mobile accounted for 20-25% of online sales. However, this will be a total underestimation of mobile’s role in retail and until it is truly credited it will not get the budget it really deserves and customers will not get the experience and channels they demand.

And for those of you who want to relive Internet Retailing Conference (or, heaven forfend, you missed it) the post event website for Internet Retailing 2013 conference is now open. You can access all the presentations from the conference that we have been given permission to share with our audiences right here

We hope you enjoy this facility and look forward to seeing everyone at Internet Retailing Expo, March 26-27 2014 at the NEC and back at the 2014 Conference on October 14 2014

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