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ARLINGTON, Va. -- 2ergo, an international provider of mobile strategy and technology solutions, performed a study of the top retailers in the United States to understand how they are optimizing their reach on mobile phones through mobile websites and smartphone applications. The research found that 27 percent of the leading U.S. retailers do not have a mobile presence and are therefore missing out on key opportunities to acquire customers, increase engagement and generate revenue.
For the study, 2ergo investigated STORES' Top 100 Retailers (including their portfolio companies) and STORES' Top 50 Favorite Retailers. The resulting 161 retailers were classified into six categories: clothing and department stores (including superstores); consumer electronics; grocery, pharmacy and convenience stores; home, office supply, automotive and pets; restaurants and fast food; and sporting and leisure goods.
The highlights of the findings include:
• 58 percent of top retailers have a mobile-optimized website and 50 percent have an iPhone, Android or BlackBerry smartphone application.
• 35 percent of those reviewed have both a mobile site and at least one mobile application.
• Of those with a mobile website, 64 percent offer purchasing of goods and services, 17 percent offer inventory locators, and 14 percent include an SMS opt-in function.
• Of those with a smartphone application, 96 percent have an iPhone application, 56 percent have an Android application, and 17 percent have a BlackBerry application.
• Only 7 percent of top retailers have launched applications for all three platforms.
• Grocery, pharmacy and convenience store retailers that are providing convenience features like personalized shopping lists, prescription refills, and photo processing orders opt for mobile apps (49 percent) more often than mobile sites (38 percent).
• Restaurants and fast-food chains have a clear favorite of mobile sites over applications; just 35 percent have a smartphone application while 74 percent have invested in a mobile-friendly site that enables download-free access to location, menu, and reservation information.
"When you consider the many ways consumers are using mobile devices to improve their shopping experiences and the fact that 42 percent of the leading U.S. retailers are without even a basic mobile website, it becomes apparent there is a gap between shoppers' behavior and retailers' presence on mobile," stated Michael Scully, managing director at 2ergo Americas.
"Retailers should keep in mind that ‘mobile shopping' is about more than just facilitating an on-device purchase," Scully continued. "It is about catering to the context of a mobile visitor. The goal of a mobile presence should be about offering real value to customers, such as on-the-go price comparisons, inventory locators, store locators, easy access to customer service, and product reviews. A mobile visitor is already overcoming a number of hurdles to connect with a brand, and these actions signal an especially valuable relationship opportunity."
2ergo's research also highlighted the drastic differences between categories of retailers, indicating there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to mobile. For example, it makes more sense for restaurants and fast-food chains to include reservation or menu features than it does to offer inventory lookup. The vast majority of retailers, however, can benefit from including store locators, click-to-call, mobile loyalty programs with coupons, and other uniquely mobile features.
In the course of the study, 2ergo also found that many retail mobile sites are victim to slow load times, out-of-date information, complicated navigation, and too many clicks in order to complete a conversion. Much of this is the result of trying to fit the desktop Web onto a mobile device by applying more traditional design techniques and technology.
"Retailers face real challenges when launching a mobile presence -- integration of existing databases for accurate real-time data, speedy load times, optimization for smartphones while not ignoring feature phone users, and access to actionable analytics," said Scully.
In October 2010, 2ergo conducted a similar study of top retailers in the United Kingdom, with significantly different results. Among the top 80 U.K. retailers researched, 93 percent of retailers were not taking full advantage of an optimized mobile presence to reach mobile shoppers.