March 16, 2007, 12:00 AM

Retail mobile web presence is small but growing, study says

8% of the top 1,000 U.S. brands offer mobile versions of their web sites; however, only 2% of brands in the retail sector operate mobile sites, according to multimedia technology and research firm RarePlay.com.

8% of the top 1,000 U.S. brands offer mobile versions of their web sites, according to a newly released study. However, only 2% of brands in the retail sector operate mobile sites, according to the “Top 1,000 U.S. Brands Mobile Web Presence Survey” from multimedia technology and research firm RarePlay.com.

Of the 10 retail segments broken out from the 35 overall in the study, the standout is electronics: 19% of electronics brands have built and maintain mobile web sites. Other brand segments that are leading early adopters include home appliances (9%) and apparel (7%). The study does not break down the percent of mobile sites that offer m-commerce functionality vs. those that are pure marketing vehicles.

The presence of retailers with mobile sites is growing; but just like Internet adoption in the mid-‘90s, retailers today are taking baby steps toward initiating a mobile presence, says Ron Knowlton, RarePlay founder and CTO.

“At the moment, a majority of m-commerce transactions is limited to mobile device add-ons like ring-tones, games, wallpapers and screensavers. Although small, these minor transactions are working to instill confidence in the public’s perception of m-commerce,” Knowlton says. “People are now beginning to feel like m-commerce transactions are secure, and, as a result, we are seeing an increasing number of businesses supporting m-commerce.”

RarePlay identified the top 1,000 U.S. brands by narrowing down the list of 2,000 brands in Brandweek magazine’s annual “Superbrand Report.” Its narrowing criteria included: removing duplications of brands that share identical sites; requiring use of at least one of the nine common mobile domain formats, including domain names that include “m” or “wap” or “mobi”; and requiring accessibility without users having to register or download additional software.

“For retailers it’s important to understand the value of having a mobile web presence,” Knowlton says. “Although we are not quite to the stage where users are making everyday purchases over their mobile devices, they are using them to identify and locate areas and products of interest.”

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