SYDNEY: Even though most Australian retailers recognise the importance of developing a mobile strategy, the great majority are unprepared and no more than 30% have mobile-enabled websites, a new report has found.

A joint study from the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and NetSuite, the cloud-based software company, also found only a fifth (21%) of the country's retailers have developed a mobile app despite 65% of Australians owning a smartphone.

Conducted by market research firm Frost & Sullivan, the "Mobility: The New Opportunity for Australia's Retailers" report questioned 120 ARA members, of whom most were from smaller companies with fewer than 50 shops.

Although Frost & Sullivan welcomed the discovery that over half have a website and nearly a third (30%) offer online purchasing, it warned retailers that they are falling short on mobile and the omnichannel shopping process.

It found only 9% of smaller retailers offer free in-store Wi-Fi and only a fifth (22%) have capacity for using Quick Response (QR) codes.

Mark Dougan, managing director for Australia and New Zealand at Frost & Sullivan, warned that the rapid growth in ownership and usage of smartphones is revolutionising the way Australian consumers shop.

"The ability to access the Internet whilst on the move has transformed many aspects of consumer behaviour," he said. "Consumers are increasingly using their smartphones for shopping to research, compare, share, purchase and pay for merchandise."

Reflecting this development in the omnichannel experience, the report also noted the mobile features and services that Australian consumers most valued.

Over two-thirds (68%) want access to free Wi-Fi while their other requirements include stock level information (58%), directions to relevant departments (57%), customer reviews (50%), product information (48%), and being able to purchase using their smartphone (43%).

"Australia's consumers are demanding that retailers provide services and features to support them in their omnichannel shopping process," continued Dougan.

"Those retailers who fail to respond to the new era of mobility in shopping face being isolated and left behind as the behaviours of their customers change," he said.

Data sourced from Australian Retailers Association, NetSuite; additional content by Warc