The IMRG, IAB and AIME plan to launch the joint leadership body before the end of the year.
Etailers Amazon and Ebay have both announced they expect their annual mobile revenues to exceed $1bn (£636m) this year from their mix of mobile apps and sites.
However, retail brands with smaller development budgets still struggle to develop an effective mobile strategy.
Sources within the trade bodies confirmed the initiative, but it’s unclear if it has been named or issued a mandate from the respective membership bodies. It will develop industry guidelines and best practice to help companies develop effective mobile commerce strategies.
The UK’s largest mobile operator, Everything Everywhere brand Orange, is understood to be the catalyst behind the move, although the company was unable to comment at the time of publication.
The three trade bodies issued a piece of joint research in August which found 40% of UK retailers plan to launch a transactional mobile site or app within 12 months. The survey of 141 retailers also found that only a fifth of the UK’s 20 most popular retail sites were optimised for mobile (nma 19 August 2010).
This contrasts with an IAB study of 1,000 consumers carried out by Work Research which demonstrated that consumer demand for mobile commerce is ahead of retailer supply (nma.co.uk 14 October).
Jonathan Mew, head of mobile at the IAB, said, “The results show a mix of purchasing methods but about 21% of people were engaging with m-commerce sites. Yet only around 8% of retailers we surveyed earlier in the year had mobile sites or apps.”
Future guidance from the joint body is understood to include whether a mobile app or site will best advance brands’ mobile strategies.
Sienne Veit, head of mobile and social at Marks & Spencer, told new media age that she preferred to launch a transactional mobile site over an app to bypass the problems of fragmentation and appeal to younger customers.
However, Nick Lansley, head of R&D at Tesco.com, elected to launch an app on Nokia’s Ovi Store ahead of Apple’s App Store to target his core customer base of “busy mums”.
“It’s all very well getting a good download figure for your app but you need more than that,” he said. “Continual engagement is the most important thing.”
Jon Rudoe, head of retail at Ocado, said, “You have to look at how people are using your site and make everything work for that customer base.”
He added that Ocado’s mobile app strategy was targeted at the bulk of its customers, which tend to be younger, professional men.
The majority of research so far has pointed towards social media being a key driver for mobile internet use, particularly for young users and teenagers.
What retailers need to consider is that while the opportunity for sales on mobile may be small, these heavy users of mobile will soon get into work and have more disposable income.
The key for retailers is not only to optimise their sites for mobile shopping but also to consider how they can integrate social functionality to embed the experience in people’s social lives.
This story first appeared on newmediaage.co.uk