US retailers slow to go mobile

13 September 2012

NEW YORK: Retailers in the US are proving hesitant when it comes to leveraging the opportunities offered by smartphones and tablets, a survey of senior industry executives has revealed., the digital arm of the National Retail Federation, and Forrester, the research firm, found that 50% of players in this sector invested less than $100k in smartphone-related schemes in 2011.

A further 74% of operators allocated similar resources to programmes for tablets, a rate of expenditure which the report described as "conservative".

"It's easy to forget that mobile retailing is still in its infancy, and unlike what we saw with ecommerce ten short years ago, mobile is almost entirely consumer-driven," Vicki Cantrell, executive director of, argued.

"As mobile grows, so too will retailers' investments in technologies that make sense for their shopper, but to get to that level of commitment, retailers must first take smart, calculated steps to maximise the mobile shopping experience both now and in the future."

More positively, while 18% of featured organisations did not spend anything on initiatives for tablets in the last fiscal year, standing at 14% for smartphones, only 9% will retain this approach in 2012.

Overall, the average company should commit $207k to schemes for tablets this year, up from $55k during the previous 12 months.

Mobile-optimised websites currently remain a higher priority, with 60% of the corporations represented already having rolled out such a platform.

Among the other strategic areas attracting attention at present are providing mobile point of sale systems in stores, with 57% of retailers predicting they will have the requisite technology in place in the next two years.

For 60% of the panel, the fact that business objectives for mobile are "unclear" has proved a major obstacle, and 40% asserted that inexperience when it came to  designing tools for wireless devices was problematic.

An additional 36% of interviewees agreed that securing the necessary budget to support their activity in this field, including hiring talent, was a primary issue.

Data sourced from; additional content by warc staff