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Retailers neglecting to support mobile shoppers risk losing millions over Christmas – do you have socks appeal?

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UK Shoppers are predicted to spend some £6.4billion online this Christmas with as much as 18% of that coming from mobile, according to IMRG, so companies not supporting the mobile channel look set to lose out dramatically. And if the ‘Sock Index’ is anything to go by, only a quarter of top fashion retailers are supporting mobile this season.

Mobile Interactive Group has tried to buy that Christmas staple a pair of socks from 57 of the UK’s leading retailers via mobile and found that only 23% of them have a sufficiently navigable and transactional site or app to make this possible.

MIG’s tongue-in-cheek report concluded that only 16 retailers had a mobile application with only nine of these being capable of processing a transaction. In addition, only four retailers had an optimised transactional mobile site. In total only 23% of all retailers in the fashion sector allowed users to find and purchase a pair of socks via mobile. Clicks to find a pair of socks ranged between two and five and clicks to the checkout (or registration page) ranged between five and eight.

The MIG study’s lightheartedness – a news stocking-filler if you will – hides a growing problem in m-retail: that consumers want it more than retailers are giving it to them (the complete reverse of socks as a Christmas gift). Research carried out by TNS earlier this year found that 82% of consumers admitted if a retailers’ website performed badly it would dissuade them from buying goods from that organisation on the web or even in store. So be warned, getting mobile wrong can damage your brand – and not just for Christmas.

“In the same way customers have determined which brands they are loyal to on the traditional web, we are likely to see the same in the mobile space as more people shop using their phone,” says Neil Barton, director, Hostway, a web and mobile hosting specialist. “Today’s mobile sites and applications are also becoming much more multimedia heavy, therefore it is vital that retailers have sufficient supporting IT infrastructure and invest in solutions such as traffic management and content caching, which can help enhance the mobile experience. The challenge for retailers this Christmas is to learn from their mistakes in the traditional web world and ensure their mobile services and applications have the right mix of technology to support them. Those retailers that do are likely to have a much merrier Christmas and prosperous new year than those that don’t.”

Ben Cusack, Group Marketing Director, Mobile Interactive Group, agrees: “The Sock Report clearly demonstrates that the fashion subset of the retail sector is lagging behind somewhat and since we know that consumers’ online behaviour extends right in to the mobile channel, clearly there are huge gains to be made with a transactional mCommerce strategy in 2011.”

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