Mobile internet is set to become one of the most influential tools for businesses and consumers

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If you’ve never really seen the point of optimising websites purely for mobile phones, then you might just want to think again. Research just released through the Online Retail Monitor from Google and the British Retail Consortium, clearly demonstrates that online retail searches from mobile phones have trebled during the first quarter of 2011 alone. The conclusion drawn from this research is that those internet websites that were specifically designed with mobile usage in mind undoubtedly fare the best. If that’s not enough to convince you, then get this for a statistic: Arc Worldwide has released figures confirming that over 50% of shoppers use their mobiles to help them reach a decision when shopping, and them place their order using them. Don’t you think it’s about time that your business made it’s website as user friendly as possible and optimised for the mobile market?

Mobile retail searches from smartphones and tablet devices increased by 181% in the first 3 months of 2011, compared to the same period last year, and they account for 11% of all retail searches on goods ranging from boots and dresses to iPod Nanos and sofas. The total retail search volumes increased by 29% for the same period. This growth was predominantly driven by multi-channel retailers who recorded a 42% increase in search traffic. Online-only retailers saw a level of growth during the period, but this was limited to just 19%. If ever proof was needed that there is added value in delivering a multi-channel service to customers, there it is.

Stephen Robertson, Director General of the BRC, put these figures into context: “online is the fastest growing part of retailing. We need to understand that development better, and what’s driving it. Despite any short-term effects from the weakening of consumer confidence, what stands out here is the fundamental strength of the growth of online retailing.”

“A 29% increase in retail searches in a year is a huge increase in potential shoppers. The rise of mobile use to 1 in 10 searches sends a valuable message to any forward-thinking retailer that doesn’t yet have an m-commerce platform.”
The ORM report measures the growth of online retail searches by counting the retail-related search terms consumers type into Google. These searches are then categorised and ranked to compare/contrast the performance of pure-play and multi-channel retailers. It’s envisaged that the report will be published quarterly from now on to complement the high street figures used by the BRC.

It really is time to start to think seriously about mobile web design and mobile search optimisation. Its popularity is increasing by the month, and if figures continue to rise, it’s likely to be the principal information source for the majority of shoppers. Isn’t it time your mobile website performed to the best of its abilities?

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