One in four of all online shopping purchases by Aussies are being done on a smartphone as part of a burgeoning m-commerce sector which is now worth $4 billion annually.

According to the Deloitte report, Mobile nation: Opportunities and strategies for retail, we spent $16 billion with online retailers in 2014 and 27% of that was via a mobile device.

The vast majority of this goes to domestic retailers who control over three quarters of Australia’s online spending.

Not surprisingly, it also found that the number of Australians who have purchased a product on their smartphone grew – from 9.5% in 2012 to 19% in 2013.

Commissioned by the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA), the report stated consumers’ rapid adoption of new technology has been the key driver of change in the retail sector over the last decade.

So what can retailers do to keep up?

The report suggested that businesses should develop a mobile strategy as part of a broader approach to customer experience.

“Consumers value face-to-face experiences as well as the convenience of shopping online or tracking purchases on a mobile device,” it stated. “Forty eight percent of Australian smartphone users visit a business as a result of a smartphone search (RAPS, 2014).

“Providing an integrated service can also improve customer experiences with 36% having shopped online and in store with the same retailer (Telstra, 2013).”

The trend is also backed up by a recent study which added that most of us preferred to use mobile devices over our PCs when looking for inspiration or comparing prices when we’re out shopping.

How do businesses use mobile successfully?

The report included case studies on the mobile retail experiences of Catch Group, which is behind daily deals website Catch of the Day, and Coles Financial Services.

Catch Group

Started in a Melbourne garage, Catch Group has an annual revenue of more than $350 million, employs 600 people and makes a sale every three seconds. Key insights include:

  • Getting its mobile app right has helped significantly increase revenue with about 70% of sales coming through mobile channels.
  • Good mobile app design is important but so is understanding how mobile shoppers differ from online shoppers – mobile shoppers are more active and always the first ones to jump on a new deal.
  • Mobile shoppers purchase three times more frequently than online shoppers, but buy lower-value items on average.

Coles Financial Services

Coles Financial Services combines loyalty programs (Flybuys) with financial services (credit cards) and shopping. Key insights include:

  • Coles’ website responds to a growing mobile traffic which is between 30% and 60% of total visits.
  • Integrated service provision is an important part of its mobile strategy by combining loyalty programs (Flybuys) with financial services (credit cards) and the shopping experience. This has resulted in increased customer engagement and use of loyalty programs.
  • Mobiles also help at the supermarket checkout by allowing customers to use PayTag by swiping their phone.

Deloitte Access Economics partner and report co-author John O’Mahony said: “Mobile devices and apps are a revenue channel, source of productivity growth and a real customer engagement opportunity for retailers.

“They are also shaping retailers’ internal operations. With a relatively young employee base, there will be increasing demands for employees to use their own devices for work. There will also be a need to upskill the workforce to meet the increasing digital literacy of customers.”