Mobile commerce slow to take off in Australia

23 August 2010

SYDNEY: Most of Australia's online retailers have been slow to embrace the opportunities provided by mobile commerce, a report has found.

Forrester, the research group, surveyed 334 major firms selling goods on the net, finding that 53% would keep their traditional e-commerce platform as their main investment priority in the next year.

A further 48% planned to boost overall outlay in this area, including 21% who described such an uptick in expenditure as "significant" in size.

Nearly half of respondents hoped more sales, attract new customers and extend the scale of existing operations may follow on from this strategy.

A similar number outlined the intention of replacing or redesigning their internet portal in the next two years, in reflection of rising demand among shoppers.

"Retailers that began selling online with little thought about what technology they'd need to sustain growth are feeling the limits imposed by their current platforms," Forrester's report said.

Some 46% of contributors agreed product pictures delivered the best results in terms of actual digital sales, ahead of video in second place on 15%.

However, 37% of companies in this sector were yet to incorporate these kinds of interactive elements within their internet stores, while only 2% had created comparison services, rich media and 3D features.

An absence of suitable software and IT systems was a frequently cited factor when progress proved lackluster, also encouraging a reticence to commit the substantial funds required to get up to speed.

"Managing content with subpar tools is costly and difficult, especially for retailers with deep sites, multiple brands, targeting and rich content. Rip Curl does not sell its entire product range online in large part for this reason."

"This task is made more difficult by the combination of options that online retailers need to understand and navigate, from e-commerce platforms to web content management, product content management, and digital asset management solution."

Elsewhere, just 19% of participants were directing resources to mobile applications, and a minority of 15% had allotted funding to the development of a dedicated mobile sales centre.

"Despite the interest in mobile commerce, few Australian retailers plan to invest in mobile commerce technology in the year ahead," Forrester said.

"Of those that have acted to support mobile already, the most common approach has been to optimise their websites for access via mobile."

Data sourced from Smart Company; additional content by Warc staff