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Retailers need to wake up to mobile opportunity, says new report

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We’ve been saying it for months – here, here and here, to cite just the most recent – but now a study by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) says that retailers have yet to wake up to the mobile opportunity in their industry.

In a few years, a generation whose shopping habits have matured alongside the emergence of mobile technology will become the mainstay of retail spending in developed economies, the report states. This threatens retailers who fail to meet this group’s rising expectations for seamless delivery of more sophisticated mobile shopping services as this cohort’s purchasing power grows, the report adds.

How mobile is transforming retail: Bricks, clicks, tweets and texts across the omnichannel shopping mall, sponsored by SAP SE, assesses the use of mobile devices by global consumers for both basic and sophisticated tasks.

In a global survey for the report, 60% of those polled use their mobile devices to comparison shop; 76% say in-store staff using mobile devices to ring up purchases appeals to them; and 51% of those who do not yet request product samples believe they will do so in the future.

As retailers work to meet customer demands for mobile shopping services, several obstacles hold back customers reticent to switch to mobile devices for shopping tasks of all sorts. These include mall screens, according to 63% of those polled, while awkward navigation is cited as a deterrent by 39% of infrequent mobile shoppers. In response, retailers are fine-tuning the ease of use of their mobile services – and anticipating the shortcomings of users’ devices and infrastructure.

Carolyn Whelan, the report’s editor, explains: “Mobile shopping continues to grow in its reach and breadth. But as demand for more sophisticated services picks up, particularly among millennials, shoppers will be less forgiving of services that fall short. As retailers shift or expand their mobile service offerings, a cohesive strategy considering consumer capabilities and needs across multiple touchpoints, from the physical store to desktops and smartphones, is paramount.”

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