More Aussie retailers need mobile websites: Google

80 per cent of retailers do not have a mobile website

The Australian retail industry is missing a golden opportunity to attract customers by not having a mobile website, according to data from Google Retail.

The study, which was conducted by Google and IPSOS Research, found that while there had been a 220 per cent year-on-year increase in mobile retail queries via mobile in Australia, 80 per cent of retailers do not have a mobile website.

“If you asked a business owner whether they would ignore every fourth customer that walks into their shop this Christmas season, the answer would be no,” said Google Australia head of retail, Ross McDonald.

“But with 25 per cent of Christmas shopping-related queries coming in on smartphones, not having a mobile website is the same thing.”

The research also found that while one in five Australian smartphone owners had made a purchase on their device, 49 per cent had used a smartphone to research and then call Australian businesses, while 45 per cent visited a business they had found using their phone.

McDonald said that while many retailers are missing out on potential sales, home improvement chain, Bunnings, and department store, Myer, are good examples of companies who have a mobile website strategy.

“For example, the first two links on the Bunnings site are for store locations and opening hours,” he said.

“They know consumers are less excited about researching lawn mower features because that’s something people can do at home on a big [computer] screen with more time.”

According to McDonald, the next big opportunity is building a multi-channel retail presence where the online experience is equal to visiting the bricks and mortar store.

“Big W is a great example of that because if you look at one of their products online, the site will also tell you stock levels in the store,” he said.

“You can make the choice about whether you transact with them right now or go around the corner to the store on your way to work.”

His advice for retailers who don't have a mobile website yet is to take a two-step process.

The first step is to develop a mobile website in time for Christmas with store locations and opening hours.

“Longer term into 2012, think about what sort of presence you want to have on a mobile phone. Do you want to be fully transactional or offer only part of your product sets?”

While desktop users are still voting with their fingers and buying from overseas websites due to the strong Australian dollar, McDonald said, it is a different story with mobile websites.

“The biggest enquiries are still for Australian retailers because of the trust factor,” he said.

“If you need to buy something for your Dad this Christmas and you’ve only got a few hours spare on Saturday morning, you’ll use your mobile phone to find the nearest store and what their opening hours are.”

McDonald said there are future opportunities to be “location relevant” with highly targeted advertising and search results for customers.

He confirmed that Google Retail Australia is looking to launch location friendly products next year but could not say what these are yet.

In related news, Harvey Norman (ASX:HVN) has plans to lean on a new e-commerce site, launching early next month, to help generate sales in FY12.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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