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Most retailers lack mobile strategy

News, 14 April 2015

LONDON: Many physical UK retailers regard mobile with suspicion, fearing the impact of showrooming, and two thirds have no clear strategy on how they will invest here, according to new research which predicts consumer spending via mobile will quadruple in the next decade.

A survey for Barclays bank polled 1,500 UK consumers and 221 retailers and found that seven in ten retailers did not yet offer consumers the option of shopping via a mobile website or a mobile app. And just over two thirds (68%) admitted they had not developed a clear plan to invest in this area.

A mere 3% of those retailers surveyed thought their business could be described as being at the cutting-edge of mobile readiness, The Drum reported.

Richard Lowe, managing director and head of retail and wholesale at Barclays, acknowledged that many retailers continued to be wary of mobile but argued that they needed to embrace it.

"Inevitably practices such as 'showrooming' lead to some sales shifting online," he said, "but, with almost three quarters of consumers using their mobile devices whilst out and about, ignoring this trend would be a missed opportunity."

He pointed to the success of hybrids such as click and collect as evidence that the physical high street store still had a fundamental role to play.

"Retailers must cater for the mobile consumer in order to remain relevant," he added.

And what the mobile consumer is looking for from retailers, the research suggested, is primarily wifi: more than half the consumers surveyed (57%) wanted free wifi hotspots, while four in ten (42%) said they were always looking out for such places.

Barclays also forecast that consumer spending via mobile devices would increase from the current figure of £9.7bn a year to £53.6bn over the next ten years, or almost 14% of retail sales.

Add in the impact of related areas, from browsing products to paying at the till, and mobile is expected to play a role in 42% of all retail sales by 2024.

Data sourced from The Drum, Daily Telegraph; additional content by Warc staff