Retailers’ responsibility to mobile customers continues to grow

Retailers are no longer just responsible for selling goods and services; they are also accountants, supply chain managers, marketers and IT experts. Mobile technology is now so embedded within the industry it has changed the way retailers operate, according to new research from the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMIA).

The latest Australian Mobile Phone Lifestyle Index report from AIMIA shows mobile ownership in Australia continues to explode. Among respondents to AIMIA’s survey, 88 per cent now own a smartphone compared to 76 per cent of respondents last year, while tablet ownership is now at 56 per cent compared to 38 per cent last year.

The survey also showed more than half of the respondents (56 per cent) made a successful purchase on their mobile phone in the last 12 months.

At the same time, almost 30 per cent of respondents admitted they have decreased their in-store purchasing since they started buying on their mobile phones. Over half (56 per cent) of the respondents stated their in-store purchases had stayed the same, while 11 per cent said their in-store purchases had increased.

Frank Farrall, lead partner for Deloitte Digital, which was a major sponsor of the survey, told that based on these results it’s important for retailers to understand this changing behaviour, saying an omnichannel model is the way to go.

“The core retail business for so many years was the same, and then all of a sudden retailers were slammed with this new consumer behaviour and that has rapidly changed the core business,” he said.

“So the strategy that has worked for you in the past does not work now and so you have to change.

“The retail business needs to understand what the customer wants and how they behave and not how they want to sell to the customer. It can be as simple as making sure your website is optimised for mobile and that’s not really expensive to do.

“A lot of retail businesses are failing to put themselves in the shoes of the customer and to work out what experience they want.”

Fortunately for retailers, Farrell said mobile devices can be used to collect customer data that can help retailers decide how to go about executing their digital strategy.

“You can get a lot of data and understand from your website [including] what people search for, what devices they use, you can see at what time of the day they’re doing it, so you can get a very accurate idea of your customers and their behaviour; the data doesn’t lie.

“Then you can do customer research to dig in a little more about what they do. It’s about balancing facts and analytics.”

The survey results also showed just over 60 per cent of respondents reported using a mobile device to compare prices online (64 per cent) and look at product or services reviews (67 per cent) before making a purchasing decision in the last 12 months.

The pressure for local retailers to understand the changing retail landscape is even greater now that Australia is seeing more international retailers enter the space.


“It’s going to put the pressure on local retailers to really rise to the challenge,” Farrell said. “Unfortunately it has taken a rude wake up call for local retailers to respond, which they are doing, but are still a few years behind and playing catch up.”

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