October 13, 2011, 1:59 PM

Top 500 e-retailers offer more mobile commerce sites and apps

37% of the top web merchants have m-commerce sites today compared with 12% in 2010.

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Consumers are more likely to find a mobile-optimized web site among Top 500 e-retailers this year.

E-retailers increasingly are brandishing mobile commerce sites to take advantage of the time consumers spend using smartphones, as 37% of the Internet Retailer Top 500 e-retailers offer dedicated m-commerce sites, according to a study by the Acquity Group LLC, a digital marketing firm that specializes in e-commerce strategy and technology, web design, and mobile commerce.

That is a big increase over the 12% that had m-commerce sites in 2010, says Tom Nawara, Acquity Group vice president of digital strategy and design. Acquity released the results in its new 2011 m-commerce audit of merchants in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide. The Top 500 Guide ranks retailers in North America by their online sales.

“The consumer expectation is that there will be a mobile experience,” Nawara says. “Mobile is becoming a key digital channel for many customers. Retailers can address this expectation by ensuring the e-commerce site is optimized for display on a mobile device.”

Some retailers have built m-commerce sites that with specific devices in mind, a trend that appears to be diminishing. In 2011, 9% of retailers optimized their m-commerce sites for the iPhone, compared with 11% in 2010. As mobile browsers become more similar, reflecting an increased reliance on shared standards, Nawara expects this non-specialization trend to continue.

Retailers also expanded their use of mobile apps, with 26% offering an app, compared with 7% in 2010. Certain retail categories lend themselves to mobile apps, Nawara says. The audit shows that 66% of health & beauty, food & drug and mass merchant e-retailers in the Top 500 offer mobile apps.

The reasons for having a mobile app vary for each retailer, Acquity Group finds, but often relate to the nature of the retailer’s business objectives, customer base and the types of devices consumers use. Sometimes an app is necessary if a specific hardware feature, such as a phone’s global positioning system technology, is essential, he says.

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