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Retailers unprepared for consumer demand for m-commerce, finds study of UK retailers and consumers

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Nearly 90% of retailers believe mobile will impact shopping in the next two years, yet just 16% have a mobile strategy in place – despite 42% of retailers already seeing mobile impacting how they run their bricks and mortar businesses – according to research by Vanson Bourne for apps creator Kony.

Of those that are doing mobile, 45% see apps as the most important mobile business channel, while 40% see m-web. SMS, once the dominant mobile comms channel for businesses, is now waning in its impact, being cited by just 10% of retailers surveyed as being important, find the study of 110 IT and marketing managers in UK retailers and 1000 UK consumers.

In line with the initial findings that retailers are not as prepared for mobile as consumers would perhaps like them to be, the study also found that the vast majority (74%) of retailers were developing their mobile strategy around the iPhone, with a surprising 52% pushing BlackBerry into the number two spot for mobile retail platforms, ahead of Nokia (31%), Android (29%) and Windows Mobile (21%).

The research also demonstrated how the rapid fragmentation of the mobile market is leading to increasingly varied consumer preferences and demands. The consumers surveyed expressed a clear preference for mobile during the decision making process, with 60% claiming to use mobile internet to make decisions in a store or while shopping online. Similarly, 40% use mobile applications to make shopping decisions and 37% use a mixture of the two.

The survey also explored the development of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, consumer attitudes towards mobile payments, and how retailers plan to implement the technology within their stores. It found that, 57% of retailers surveyed are considering the technology as part of their overall mobile strategy, citing competitive pressures and customer demand as key drivers for this decision.

A quarter of consumers already want to use their mobiles to pay for items in-store as opposed to using cards or cash despite the low awareness of the technology among consumers.

Consumers cite convenience (59%) as the reason for using mobile payments. Security concerns (39%) remain a key reason why consumers say they don’t want to pay with mobile, suggesting a real opportunity for retailers to significantly increase interest in mobile payments by addressing these concerns and this lack of education since NFC provides significantly security advantages.

“The discrepancy between what retailers know they should do and what they are actually doing demonstrates how difficult it is to deliver mobile applications across the wide variety of phones, tablets, and browsers,” says David Eads, head of product marketing at Kony. “Companies need a partner to manage the mobile chaos so they can focus on growing their business. Retailers are limiting themselves by only serving customers in a few channels. If retailers don’t serve their customers, they will go somewhere else. The data clearly shows some retailers are investing significantly in this channel to win those customers. They will attract those customers. The only way to leapfrog the competition and ensure the success of any mobile strategy is to provide customers with a comprehensive offering with those must-have mobile features and functions.”

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