LONDON: Leading UK retailers have more work to do if they are to fully exploit the marketing and selling opportunities offered by smartphones and tablets, new research has claimed.

The Mobile Retail Audit, from the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB), was carried out in May and June 2013 and looked at a number of different mobile measures across the 50 retailers spending the most on advertising in the UK, including optimised sites, apps, optimised search campaigns and in store Wi-Fi.

While most had a mobile-optimised site, only 8% had a tablet-optimised site. This indicated, said the IAB, that mobile had become integral to the marketing strategies of many retail brands but fundamental elements were still missing.

Of the brands with a mobile-optimised site, some 81% had a transactional functionality to them. This compared favourably with the 62% of brands that had an app – just 48% of those apps were transactional.

The lack of a seamless digital experience was further highlighted by the finding that just 10% of the retailers reviewed offered a 'single user' approach, where a user's account worked across both desktop and mobile app.

Overall, less than half (48%) of the top 50 UK retailers optimised their search campaigns for mobile. The IAB stressed the need for more attention to be paid to this "bread and butter marketing channel".

The IAB found that some sectors were over-performing compared to the average, in particular fashion retailers. All eight in the study had mobile-optimised sites, while seven out of the eight operated mobile-specific search strategies.

Alex Kozloff, IAB's head of mobile, observed that fashion-specific retailers had "grasped the essentials of mobile marketing" but many other leading retailers had yet to do so.

"With so many consumers now deciding to shop online, brands can't afford to not get this right," she said.

"The IAB will be reaching out to retail brands specifically over the coming months to help educate them further about how to make the most of mobile," she added.

Data sourced from IAB; additional content by Warc staff