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While plenty of US retailers have mobile commerce sites or apps, it seems those in the UK have been slower to move into mobile.
I covered this topic last year, and could only think of three m-commerce sites in the UK, two of which were Amazon and eBay. There are now a few more, but a lot of big names are yet to move into mobile commerce.
Strong growth is predicted for the mobile commerce market, and there are plenty of reasons why a mobile commerce site (or app) can benefit retailers. I've been listing the UK retailers with a mobile presence...
Some stats from a recent BT Expedite multichannel retailing survey illustrate this point; while 23% of North American retailers have a mobile commerce presence, and 47% plan to, just 5% of UK retailers have m-commerce sites or apps, while 24% are planning to.
I've listed the UK retailers I know of that have a mobile commerce website or mobile app. If there are any I've missed, leave me a comment...
Oasis has an iPhone app, which showcases part of the retailers' collection, as well as providing a store locator. It was previously let down by the checkout process, which hadn't been optimised for mobile, but Oasis has recently updated the app, and the new version has solved this problem.
This is one of the better mobile commerce apps, it shows a limited range of stock, but navigates well, and has a well designed mobile checkout process.
The electrical retailer has a mobile website rather than an app, though it isn't a transactional site. Instead, users can browse through the product range and reserve items for in-store collection.
The Next iPhone app was released recently, and it's pretty impressive, with a decent range of stock and a checkout process that makes it easier for mobile users.
Tesco doesn't have a full m-commerce app or site, but it has introduced three iPhone apps over the last few months; a Clubcard app which users can scan at the checkout, a Store Finder app, and a Wine Finder app, which users can actually place orders from.
House of Fraser
House of Fraser brought out a Gift Finder app before Christmas, though it is let down by the checkout process.
Amazon has a mobile site and an iPhone app, which are similar,though the app has the added bonus of the 'Amazon remembers' feature which allows you to take a photo of a product and find matches from Amazon's range, handy for offline price comparison.
Both site and app have a well designed checkout which has been optimised for mobiles.
Interflora has a mobile site which was launched last year; a stripped down version of the main site with a limited range of flowers and gifts.
Warehouse recently launched an iPhone app, though the mobile commerce part needs some improvement.
Simply Group has iPhone apps for its various brands, and customers can buy from the apps, though they are routed to the checkout of the main website.
The Barratts app was introduced recently, and contains some good features, excellent mobile product pages, and even has a changing room where you can match shoes to an outfit by inserting a photo of yourself. The checkout hasn't been optimised though, which means actually buying some shoes is trickier than it could be.
The common theme here is that retailers seem to be keener to create an iPhone app rather than a mobile site, which would seem a more logical move.
Apps may be flashier and more fashionable, but retailers should consider a mobile website as a starting point for their mobile commerce strategy.
Some of the pros and cons of mobile sites and apps are laid out here, but a site does have the advantage of greater reach by working across a range of handsets and to those people who may be searching for products on their mobiles.
One barrier to shoppers actually making purchases on their mobile phones is the checkout process. Even on an iPhone, which has a better web browsing experience than many other phones, desktop checkouts can be a usability nightmare.
So, a checkout that has been optimised for mobile users is vital to help retailers actually drive sales and push up conversion rates from mobiles. There is a significant difference in conversion rates between those apps with optimised checkouts and those without.
Simply linking to the main checkout process from an app is not good enough, and retailers doing this are not likely to drive significant sales via mobile.
Are you a retailer with a mobile commerce presence? Have I missed any retailers from this list? Let me know below...