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It's hard to find a market today that isn't being impacted by the rapid growth in mobile usage. Smartphone penetration continues to hit new milestones and executives in just about every industry are trying to figure out how to capture the mobile opportunities that increasingly seem within reach.

Just how big are these opportunities?

Former Facebook executive-turned-venture capitalist Matt Cohler believes that mobile ads "will be bigger than the web." His rationale is straightforward: "it's a lot more like TV than a web browser ever was."

Cohler might be right, but advertisers face plenty of mobile challenges. Fat fingers, for instance, are one.

For retailers specifically, mobile has been a mixed bag. According to a new report by Shop.org, retailers are upping their investment in mobile; it was $55,000 last year, the average is $207,000 this year.

But while the vast majority of retailers are making mobile investments, and 60% say they now have a mobile-friendly site, well over half (60%) still aren't sure about the business objectives for mobile. And, as MediaPost's Sarah Mahoney details, talent and capital are also sources of concern: 40% of the retailers surveyed indicate that they lack the experience to execute on the mobile opportunity, and nearly as many (36%) aren't sure they have budget.

The result: despite the fact that only a small minority of retailers are not investing in mobile, the majority which are appear to be, by in large, taking a more cautious approach.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. As some of the most innovative technology companies in the world have learned, mobile is a tough nut to crack. There are lots of opportunities, lots of challenges and best practices are still being established. In the background is the staggering pace of change as new devices come to market and platforms evolve.

For retailers, the biggest question at this point may not be "How much do we invest?" but rather "Where do we invest?" Mobile strategy doesn't just involve websites and apps. As Shop.org's study demonstrates, in-store mobile components, such as electronic receipts and point-of-sale technologies, are likely to be a big piece of the retail mobile puzzle too.

Patricio Robles

Published 12 September, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2380 more posts from this author

Comments (3)

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Stephen Millard, Director at Eccomplished

Where to invest is certainly the right question - our recent research here (http://eccomplished.com/mobile-tops-retailers-investment-bets-for-2013-14/) shows mobile is the number one investment priority for 2013/14 but retailers have important decisions to make.

There is no doubting the rise of mobile as a primary search device, but how people buy is often driven by the other devices they have access to.

Across Europe, owners of 2 or more devices (mobile and/or tablet &/or tablet) demonstrate very different behviours across different categories, it is critical retailers understand these behaviours before they place what are likely to be very significant bets.

This research will be showcased on a webinar in partnership with Trendstream on 25 September you can register here https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6479350898754516736

almost 4 years ago

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Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum.co.uk

Mobile is the future!

Tablet is the future!

The claims are made - but whether retailers are making the right investments for the future...

But there are certainly some nice projects starting coming to fruition: Dixons Retail released last week their new Responsive Web www.currys.co.uk last week.

It's cool to see a site scale and 'jump' navigation menus/choices between the '3 sites in 1': from Mobile through Tablet to Desktop, as you reduce your browser window width down.

For a few minutes there it had me hypnotised ! Sliding the window width back and forward to see the beauty of the 3 different page layouts appear and disappear ! Shiny!

It also is a challenge to measuring 24/7 user experience through website monitoring: the existing Add to Basket kind of journeys; should you now run 3 not just 1: to cover all 3 variants of the Responsive Web page?

And now that the whole page layout is controlled in javascript/AJAX - your current monitoring is rendered useless if you're still using only static style monitoring that was fashionable until recently.

almost 4 years ago

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Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum.co.uk

Mobile is the future!

Tablet is the Future!

Easy to chant these new slogans but harder to decide where exactly to invest.

But some people made their decisions a while back - witness Dixons Stores releasing their new currys.co.uk last week - with full Responsive Web.

I spent several minutes in a trance-like state, just making my browser window narrower, and then wide again - watching the site jump from Desktop to Tablet to Mobile navigation/menus! Shiny!

But whatever your investment in mobile and tablet looks like - it will cause new challenges for your website monitoring.

Do you now need three Journeys for mobile, tablet and desktop, where before just one for desktop was enough?

A bigger challenge again - your monitoring will be rendered completely useless if you're still using the static based non-dynamic approach, which was popular until recently.

almost 4 years ago

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