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IR Top 500 shows Argos gets m-retail, but the rest of the industry lags far behind

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While Argos tops the list of mobile enabled companies in the Internet Retailing Top 500 with an almost perfect score, the in depth research reveals that the vast majority of UK retailers are failing to deliver in the mobile channel.

Argos scored a near perfect 12 out of 12.5 against all the metrics used to analyse the UK’s retailers and was highly commended for really building mobile into its business. Helped by the fact that its catalogue-shopping-on-the-high-street model lends itself to cross-channel retail, Argos is still a stand out against the other 499 companies in the study.

“Argos has clearly thought through its mobile and cross-channel operations,” says Internet Retailing researcher Martin Shaw. “Retail experts sometimes talk about mobile as if it’s not a separate channel anymore, their reasoning being that everyone uses their phones and tablets when it comes to researching and buying goods these days. Despite this, many retailers still have big gaps in their mobile offerings, or even no mobile offering at all, suggesting a big discrepancy between an understanding of best practice and implementation.”

However, the research revealed that of the 500 companies assessed for the Internet Retailing Top 500, only 103 had iPad apps and 156 had iPhone apps. Fewer than 100 had scanning, in-app purchasing, m-payments and social sharing. There is still much work to be done to get mobile entrenched in the majority of retailers.

“One of the most striking statistics here is that of the Top500, 349 retailers, more than two-thirds, scored two points or less in the Mobile and Cross-channel Dimension. In addition, 334 companies have no mobile offering,” says Shaw. “Frankly, these are figures that surprised us, perhaps because we so often report on companies that Argos achieved a near-perfect index value in the Mobile and Cross-channel Dimension.”

“This is why this kind of quantitative research is so valuable,” continues Shaw. “The best retailers are good at marketing and selling themselves, it’s built into the company DNA. That means those making big strides promote what they’re doing. Conversely, those that are lagging in mobile make a noise and fuss about those facets of the business where they’re stronger.”

Argos is joined at the top of heap by oversized clothes retailer Evans and sports retailer JD Sports, which scored 11.75 and 11.25 respectively. Boots, Ernest Jones, House of Fraser, Mothercare and Topman all managed to register as leaders. Surprisingly, Apple came in only as a model store.

“Our research suggests plenty of retailers urgently need to address these basic questions,” concludes Shaw. “Against this, it may be that a year hence we will find far more retailers with sophisticated mobile offerings. That’s because the all-or-nothing nature of mobile implementation – if retailers are going to invest in mobile, the retailer has to commit in earnest – may make this a volatile Dimension to chart in the years ahead. While we’re wary of making predictions, it may be that we’ll see a rush of retailers investing in mobile in the next year or two as companies see mobile is essential to a cross-channel strategy.”

Going forward the report will also look at mobile optimisation, usability, user experience, personalisation and location services.


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