Study: Most retailers offering mobile services for shoppers

Chicago — The overwhelming majority of retailers offer some kind of service for mobile shoppers, and one national retail pharmacy chain was named among those leading the way, according to a new study.

Digital marketing and e-commerce company Acquity Group released results of a report showing that 82% of retailers have a mobile-optimized site, 72% have a mobile or tablet app, and 66% have both. Most of them, 88%, use basic mobile capabilities like shopping carts, while 85% use featured products, 63% use customer reviews, and 54% use contact forms.

On the other hand, the report found a number of areas where retailers could improve, such as product image zoom-in capabilities, which most offer online, but only 39% offer on mobile. In addition, only 10% offer in-store digital experiences such as augmented reality, relevant product content access, in-store loyalty applications and digital barcode coupons, and 28% offer "pay-by-phone" capabilities like PayPal and Google Wallet at their brick-and-mortar locations.

"Now that brands recognize the importance of the mobile channel, their focus must shift to adopting forward-looking mobility strategies to augment their in-store and big browser sales channels," Acquity Group EVP Jay Dettling said. "Mobile is no longer a separate channel for e-commerce."

Brands leading the way, according to the report, included Walgreens, Nordstrom, Best Buy, American Eagle Outfitters, Dick's Sporting Goods, Victoria's Secret, Home Depot, Urban Outfitters and GameStop. Meanwhile, Dollar Tree, Bath & Body Works, Big Lots, Tractor Supply and Rent-A-Center were the only retailers surveyed that didn't have a mobile presence.

As Dettling suggested, mobile is becoming second nature for many retailers. In addition to Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS offer apps of their own — including one introduced in November 2012 by CVS that allows users to upload images from their mobile devices to a Kodak Picture Kiosk to create products like personal greetings, calendars and photo books — as do regional chains like Pharmaca. Among food retailers, Ahold has made strides in this area, with the "virtual grocery store" concept that online grocer Peapod rolled out in October 2012 at passenger rail stations in Chicago and several urban locations in the Northeast, while Stop & Shop is offering mobile services for smartphone users at some of its newer stores.

According to a recent study by Deloitte, use of apps and mobile websites while shopping accounted for a 5% increase in retail sales over the past year, equal to $159 billion in in-store sales. Investment in mobile among retailers has come just in time for the holiday season. According to a survey conducted this summer by Retail Systems Research on behalf of Bronto Software and released in October 2012, nearly half of the 179 retail respondents have invested in new mobile apps, and 43% have invested in mobile website optimization.