Google highlights value of mobile sites ahead of Xmas

Retailers will have to develop mobile-friendly websites in order to cash in on a “marathon” Christmas shopping season, according to Google Australia’s head of retail.


According to Ross McDonald, head of retail for Google Australia, businesses that don’t have a mobile-friendly site will lose out on “the biggest retail opportunity of the year”.


His warning comes on the back of a report by Google, which shows a 220% year-on-year increase in mobile retail queries via mobile.


The study, conducted in conjunction with Ipsos Research, asked 30,000 people in 30 countries about their smart phone usage and attitudes towards mobile.


According to Google, Australia has the second-highest smart phone penetration in the world.


By the end of the year, more than 50% of Australian adults will own a smart phone, the research reveals. And as McDonald points out, we’re only in the early days.


“50% of Australians have a smart phone. There’s another 50% to go,” he says.


While consumers are readily embracing the mobile revolution, the same can’t be said for businesses. Google estimates 80% of advertisers don’t have mobile-friendly websites.


“If you asked a business owner whether she’d ignore every fourth customer to walk in her shop this Christmas season, the answer would certainly be no,” McDonald says.


“But with 25% of Christmas shopping-related queries coming in on mobile, not having a mobile website is basically the same thing. The missed potential is huge.”


The research reveals one in five Australian smart phone owners have used their mobile phone to make a purchase, while 49% have used their smart phone to research and contact a business.


Meanwhile, 45% have visited a local business after they found it using their smart phone.


With Christmas just around the corner, McDonald says November is an ideal time for small businesses to rethink their online presence, namely their mobile offering.


“The Christmas shopping season is a marathon that ends in a sprint. People make last-minute decisions, which means we see consumers searching for gifts right up to Christmas Eve,” he says.


“In the context of retail, people use their mobile much closer to the point of transaction. They also use it to confirm the research they’ve done on their laptop or desktop computer.”


“You want consumers to know where you are, so be clear on your location and opening hours. Also be clear on promotions, both before and after Christmas.”


“Ultimately, people use their mobile for the convenience. So when you’re trying to make a sale, you need to reinforce that.”


Google recently launched GoMo, a new initiative aimed at helping businesses create mobile-friendly sites.


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