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Amazon, Home Depot, Walmart best-in-class mobile retailers: Acquity Group

In its third annual Mobile Audit, Acquity Group found that retail adoption of mobile strategies such as mobile sites and applications jumped significantly in the past year and pointed to the accomplishments of leading mobile retailers such as Amazon, Home Depot and Walmart.

According to the report, there has been a 210 percent increase in the past year in the number of top retailers with a mobile site and a 278 percent increase in the number offering mobile apps. The results show that 2011 was the year that retailers accepted mobile as a key platform for growth and customer engagement.

“For the last couple of years, everybody has said that this is going to be the year of mobile,” said Tom Nawara, vice president of digital strategy and design for Acquity Group, Chicago.

“It is obvious that mobile is here from the huge increases in adoption that we saw,” he said. “It is definitely here and it is not going away – it is a core tactic that retailers need to be addressing.

“Consumers are really expecting retailers to have mobile optimization in one form or another.”

Device specification wanes
Acquity’s Mobile Audit analyzes the rate of mobile adoption by Internet Retailer’s Top 500 companies.

In 2011, 37 percent of retailers have a mobile optimized site compared with 12 percent in 2010 and 4 percent in 2009.

Retailers are getting behind mobile apps in a bigger way as well, with 26 percent offering such apps in 2011 compared with 7 percent in 2010.

The study also found that one in four retailers have at least one mobile app, with nearly a quarter developing for the iPhone, followed by10 percent for Android. And, 18 percent of companies had both a mobile site and an app.

One surprising finding was that the percentage of companies with a site optimized specifically for the iPhone decreased from 11 percent in 2010 to 9 percent in 2011.

However, such non-specialization is expected to continue as mobile browsers become increasingly similar.

“The overall trend will move away from device specification for the mobile Web as modern browsers become consistent across platforms,” Mr. Nawara said.

The top 10 best-in-class retailers when it comes to mobile, according to Acquity, are Amazon, Armani Exchange, Barnes & Noble,, Cabela’s, Gilt Groupe, The Home Depot, Newegg, Walgreens and Walmart.

The retailers were singled out for their focused commitment to mobile as well as their execution of mobile tactics such as mobile optimized sites, strong transactional functionality and well-designed apps that meet customer needs.

The results also show that retailers are following industry trends in terms of how they approach smartphone platforms, with 23 percent of companies offering an iPhone app while very few had BlackBerry or WebOS apps.

Apps for Android had the highest rate of growth over last year at 20 percent for a total share of 10 percent.

The adoption rate for mobile apps varies significantly by retail sector.

Acquity Group’s analysis shows that retail segments such as health and beauty as well as food, drug and mass merchants had an average adoption rate for iPhone apps of 66 percent while groups such as flowers and gifts as well as hardware and home improvement had an adoption rate of 36 percent.

“Even with the incredible rise in the numbers that we are seeing, there is still a huge opportunity to meet customers’ expectations,” Mr. Nawara said. “Right now, 63 percent of retailers are not optimizing their site for mobile.

“Retailers need to be considering mobile apps to extend their brand and tcommerce should absolutely be considered as part of an overall mobile strategy,” he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York