Making Science

Sponge Reveals Mobile Microsite Research Findings

David Murphy

A fifth of online retailers have used mobile microsites to push specific promotions, according to research findings released by mobile marketing agency Sponge. 
The study, which looks at how the retail industry perceives and uses mobile as a sales and communication tool, found that 40% of those surveyed said they already had an information-led mobile Internet site, or were considering building one. However, 10% were unsure, while half said that a mobile Internet site wasnt part of their growth plan.   
The survey showed that retailers considered mobile to be a useful customer communication channel - half said they had used mobile as a direct response channel in television or press advertising campaigns. 60% of these had done so by featuring an SMS code in TV ads, while 20% did so in print magazines and newspapers. The remaining 20% said they were unsure which ad medium they had used mobile as a response mechanism for.
Sponges study, which focused on 10 prominent online retailers across sectors including travel, fashion, leisure, catalogues, communications and publishing, showed that overall, 70% use mobile to communicate with their customers.
When asked what the main purpose of contacting customers via SMS was, Sponge found that 40% of these use messages to send product information, while a further 40% use SMS to send stock alerts and delivery time confirmation. 20% said they inform their customers of special offers.
Of the 30% who dont currently use mobile to communicate with customers, two thirds said they intend to start within the next 12 months. The rest said they are not considering using mobile in the future, saying that they had tried it in the past and not seen any benefits. Although a high number of retailers use mobile to communicate with customers, only 20% currently use m-commerce as a transactional sales channel.
Our survey shows that the use of mobile among retailers is high, but the benefits of having m-commerce capabilities are yet to be recognised, says Sponge Commercial Director, Jon Beverley. Recent research by analyst firm Juniper predicts that more than 2 billion mobile users globally will have made a purchase via their handsets by 2013. A fifth of retailers that took part in our survey already offer customers this capability the option to make purchases via mobile phones is keeping them ahead of their competitors.
Sponges study also revealed that 40% of online retailers said that their transactional websites are mobile friendly, while half of those surveyed said they would be adding this functionality within the next 12 months. 10% said they didnt know if their website was mobile friendly.
30% of those questioned felt that the success of mobile and e-commerce were not interlinked, citing that they would find mobile a useful and efficient way of communicating with customers,  even if they didnt have an e-commerce site. However, 50% believe that online and mobile are dependent on each other, with 20% undecided.
20% of retailers who use mobile to communicate with customers said it had reduced the need for call centre staff. An equal number answered No and 10% didnt know if this was the case. Not all retailers surveyed had call centres 50% said this question was not applicable to them.
30% of those surveyed said that mobile was essential or important for staying in touch with customers. A further 40% agreed, but only if mobile was used as part of a wider communications programme. 30% felt it was unimportant.