Chris Silva
Chris Silva

Note: The following is a guest post from Chris Silva, Mobile Industry Analyst with Altimeter Group. We’ll periodically feature guest posts from the people behind research we think you should know about. 

Are retailers doing enough to serve their mobile customers? Many are not. While nearly 50% of mobile phone owners in the US are carrying app-laden smartphones, 77% of smartphone buyers use them while shopping. With such rapid adoption, it’s hard to understand why major brands aren’t doing more to cater to these customers.

The report lays out a decision process retailers must follow to be successful and showcases how winning teams at Best Buy, Starbucks and other major brands are bringing their organizations to new heights with mobile by focusing first on the intended business impact of their mobile strategy, and then focusing on the right one of four application types, ranging from simple information-based applications to complex multichannel heavy applications that allow payment with a user’s mobile device.

Overall, Altimeter found many retailers in the “hitting turbulence” maturity group, somewhere between those getting started or “still on the ground” and those with successful applications that are “flying high.” Mostly this is due to fragmented organization around mobile and multiple false starts – even for established brands – trying to get a mobile app to market. Most of these applications struggle to solve a user problem or focus instead on the novelty of using am mobile device and not on the pains customers routinely feel.

Retail has been one of the first areas where the overwhelming push for mobile tools from users has outpaced the strategies of brands, but it won’t be the last. Retailers missing the opportunity to capitalize on mobile users may lose out to competition by the likes of Amazon.com whose price-check app this past holiday lured shoppers out of brick and mortar stores with a promise of better prices and discounts in exchange for competitive pricing intelligence gathered via their smartphone app. Who will win this battle? Right now it’s anyone’s game, with a very crowded battlefield.

Read the full report on Slideshare, or visit my blog for more on the topic.