Study: Retailers overlooking tablet and smartphone opportunities

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Retailers could be doing much more to improve their marketing on mobile and tablet devices, according to a  report released on Feb. 16. Research from HawkPartners, commissioned by interactive digital catalog company Zmags, found that fewer than one-third of top online retailers have optimized their sites for tablets, while just 59% have smartphone-specific sites.

The report, titled “Mobile & Tablet e-Commerce: Is anyone really ready?” examined the smartphone and tablet marketing efforts of the top 100 Internet retailers over a four-week period toward the end of 2011, and found that many still had work to do in terms of strategizing for mobile- and tablet-based marketing.

Of all 100 retailers, the report found only Nike to be taking full advantage of the tablet's unique interface, as the brand created an iPad-specific site. While 40% of the retailers had tablet-specific apps, one quarter of these did not include an e-commerce element that allows users to purchase through them directly.

“Few people have done much beyond, or even optimized their site for a tablet,” said W. Sean Ford, COO and CMO for Zmags, adding that retailers should even consider going further. “Extending a website to the tablet, while a good step, does not take advantage of all of its strategic benefits: touch, personalization, mobility,” he said.

Nineteen of the 100 top retailers were found to offer content that went beyond standard HTML material, such as look books, rich media, or editor's picks.

The report credited Gilt Groupe, Disney and Urban Outfitters for strong sales and marketing offerings across all devices.

Ford emphasized that the fact that so many top retailers were not optimizing their mobile strategy pointed to how challenging it is to stay ahead of the rapidly changing technology.

“It's about building imaginative and immersive experiences, because that's what consumers are looking for,” said Ford. “It starts to replicate the process of building a brick-and-mortar store: you are trying to create a unique experience within the store, and that approach from retail needs to be applied to the mobile channel.”

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