Google: ‘retailers must improve in-store mobile experience to stay viable’

Retailers need to improve their in-store mobile experience in order to stay viable on the high street, according to Google’s head of mobile for EMEA Ian Carrington.

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Shops should be adding mobile services to their offering such as customer reviews, opt-in preference-based advertising and deals, he adds, to attract people to buy in store rather than online.

High street stores should be focussing on making mobile part of their in-store experience if they are to compete with their online counterparts, he adds.

Like for like high street sales fell 1.6% last month compared to November 2010, according to the BRC, while total sales increased just 0.7%.

“At the moment retailers need to make the in-store experience for consumers very magical. Mobile can empower consumers by giving them the local aspect, extra information [on products] and choice,” Carrington adds.

Google is exploring several options to ensure users can seamlessly link their desktop browsing and commerce experiences to their mobiles, so they can browse product information and shop in-store simultaneously.

Carrington says: “One of our views is that regardless of what screen you’re on, if you’re watching a movie, you should be able to pause it on one device and pick it up on the next, wherever you are. There’s no reason why this can’t be the same with commerce.”

Google’s “Chrome to Phone” Android application lets users push links, maps, text and phone numbers to their devices, although Carrington admits that the tracking capabilities for an entirely seamless commerce browsing experience “are not there yet”.

“Poor” mobile web strategies mean UK retailers are collectively missing out as much as £4bn in revenue, according to technology solutions company QuBit.

Weaknesses in mobile site performance in areas such as “thumb friendliness”, redirection from desktop to mobile versions, speed and customisation according to location are costing individual retailers as much as 12% in annual revenues.

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