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58pc of top retailers are mobile-enabled, 19pc of online shoppers plan to buy via mobile: study

Despite the rush by retailers to become mobile-ready, with 58 percent of top brands engaging through the medium, only a minority of consumers plan to buy through mobile this holiday season, according to Tamar research.

In contrast to previous studies that show high adoption of mobile applications, Tamar’s survey shows that only 19 percent of British consumers will be Christmas shopping via mobile. Consumer feedback indicates that retailers currently fail to understand customers’ needs and concerns—instead they create mobile-ready applications and mobile Web portals without evaluating whether these meet the needs of customers.

“We found that consumers are worried about using mobiles handsets to shop online,” said Tanya Goodin, CEO of Tamar, London. “That’s despite the rapid uptake of smartphones in the U.K. this year, especially among older women.”

Security issues were highlighted as an obstacle to mobile adoption in general feedback from some consumers as well as the challenges in payment processes, for example, having to key in credit/debit card details while on the move.

This underlines Tamar’s view that retailers need to simplify the conversion process while at the same time educate and explain both the benefits and the safe nature of online mobile shopping.

“Our findings indicate the need for retail brands to adopt trusted online payment methods, such as PayPal, for mobile,” Ms. Goodin said.

“It also highlights the need for brands to engage with consumers to ensure that they understand the security of mobile shopping while at the same time learning from their customers to improve the mobile shopping experience,” she said.

The findings
The Christmas Online Retail 2010 study, developed on the base of consumer surveys and Tamar’s Web-metric evaluation, shows that Amazon is by far the most popular online retail brand, according to consumers polled.

Tamar also used internal metrics to build a snapshot of which top online British retail brands were mobile-ready.

The table below shows that 56 per cent of top online brands, across a representative range of market sectors, have either a mobile application or mobile Web portal.

Tamar Online Christmas 2010 table: Top online retail brands engaged through mobile:

In the time since the study was conducted, Next, Tesco and Asos all tapped Usablenet to launch mobile commerce Web sites.

Christmas shopping on mobile 2010 by age
Of those surveyed, the slowest adopters of mobile shopping are the over 55s (10 percent).

Surprisingly, the 18-24 age group were not far behind, with only 11 percent saying that that they would definitely use mobile for holiday season shopping.

The most engaged age group for mobile were consumers ages 25-34 (29 per cent), which contrasted with the 35-44 age group (18 percent), and the 45-54 age group (20 percent).

Overall, only 19 percent of consumers polled said that they would use mobile for Christmas purchases.

Equally interesting were the responses showing an interest but at the same time a reluctance to shop online through mobile this Christmas.

Feedback during the survey indicated a strong level of doubt about whether the channel was secure enough to trust.

The highest resistance came in the 45-54 age group, where 20 percent indicated that they might shop on their mobile but were still undecided.

Will you buy online through mobile this Christmas?

Mobile Christmas shopping
Questioned about general online intentions this year, nearly half (45 percent) of those polled said that they intended to buy more Christmas goods online, compared to 2009.

Of those planning to buy more goods online in the festive period, one in five confirmed that they were intending to increase spend by 20 percent or more, with 3 percent as high as 50 percent.

The Tamar study also highlighted that while the vast majority of consumers surveyed were happy to shop via the Web, 29 percent were not planning to increase the proportion of their Christmas budgets spent online this season, and 17 percent had not shopped online nor were planning to do so.

Nine percent said they were planning to reduce online spend this Christmas.

Conclusions
The rapid adoption of smartphones, tablet devices and other mobile Internet-friendly handsets this year has put pressure on retailers to become mobile-ready.

The adoption of mobile shopping appears to be mirroring the uptake of online shopping through the Web over the past four years, with a predicted doubling of engagement through the channel over the next three years, according to Ovum and Verdict Research.

However, there are current barriers to mobile commerce uptake.

Security is an issue and there are logistical problems, for example, using a credit card in a public space such as a train or bus when making an online purchase on the move.

These findings indicate the need for retail brands to adopt trusted online payment methods, such as PayPal, for mobile.

It also highlights the need for brands to educate and engage with consumers to ensure that they understand the security of mobile shopping while at the same time learning from their customers to improve the mobile shopping experience.

The use of mobile GPS to ignite location-based services in Britain over the coming year, following the U.S. example, offers retail brands the opportunity to ‘bind consumers closer’ by offering useful, relevant and cost-conscious information.

The current lack of confidence in retail mobile applications and mobile Web portals suggests that there is much more work to be done after Christmas to convince consumers that their mobiles are safe and usable for more than just product browsing.

The Tamar research also points the way for retail brands in 2011, particularly in mobile, as it clearly demonstrates the growing use of “on the move eretail.”

However, the majority of consumers will not engage through the channel this Christmas.

“The use of mobile GPS to ignite location-based services in the U.K. over the coming year, following the U.S. example, offers retail brands the opportunity to ‘bind consumers closer’ by offering useful, relevant and cost-conscious information,” Ms. Goodin said.

“The current lack of confidence in retail mobile apps and mobile Web portals suggests that there is much more work to be done after Christmas to convince consumers that their mobiles are safe and usable for more than just product browsing,” she said.

Final Take