Apps pose a big investment for UK retailers, and there are differing levels of adoption depending on the platform. According to June 2013 research from the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB UK), the greatest percentage of retailers offered an iPhone mobile app, at 62%, while a lesser 42% had an app designed for Android mobile. And although tablet-specific apps were less common among respondents, a reasonably substantial 34% had developed an iPad app, and 30% had an Android app.
Apps offer some of the most interactive opportunities for consumers and deeper engagement with retailers. But at the same time, smartphone and tablet users do not necessarily want to download the app of every retailer they might one day visit, online or in-store. This is why mobile-optimized sites are also critical, even among those retailers with app offerings.
Retailers have been relatively fast in their adoption of mobile-optimized sites, used by nearly three-quarters of the 50 UK retailers surveyed. But it is somewhat surprising that any retailer would miss out on having a mobile site at this point, with so many consumers on-the-go and searching on their smartphones for their next shopping stop.
Besides offering mobile-optimized sites, 48% of respondents had also optimized their search campaigns for mobile, and the same percentage had a mobile GPS store locator on their site. Both of these features mean that when consumers are out Googling the location of the nearest brick-and-mortar retailer, they will have no trouble finding it quickly.
The vast majority had not gone a step further, though, and created a tablet-specific site; only 8% had one. Responsive web design seemed to be on the back burner for now as well, with only 2% of retailers employing it.
Retailers in the UK have a big opportunity on mobile devices—especially on tablets, since these devices are often favored for “lean-back” shopping and buying. But if retailers do not move to provide consumers with the tablet technology they need to have a top-notch digital retail experience, they may find themselves losing out on critical sales.
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