Are small retailers missing the mobile opportunity?

Small retailers are currently faced with a tremendous opportunity with mobile technologies. By leveraging their nimble nature, and because they consistently operate fewer stores than large chains, small retailers stand to fold more mobile solutions into the entire shopping experience than their larger competitors.

For their employees, this means an opportunity to become more relevant to in-store shoppers, who have long outgunned them technologically.

Also within stores, it means an opportunity to provide more customer-facing benefits leveraging the devices consumers already own and love. And in sum, it means the opportunity to makes stores more interesting places to shop. However, as we found out in our recent mobile research, small retailers seem to be missing their window of opportunity; too scared to go out on an adventurous limb.

By revenue, the smallest retailers (those with less than $250 million in annual revenue) are just plain missing the boat. Considering how low the cost of these powerful tools has become, mobile technologies should, in theory, already provide a virtual playground full of ways smaller retailers can convert their stores into far more interesting places to shop than that of their larger brethren. And yet this is simply not the case.

At 33%, small retailers display the least interest in gaining deeper insights into shopper’s behaviours through mobile sites and apps. This is nothing short of a miss on their parts.

It is also interesting to note the smallest retailers are the most attuned to driving sales by offering consumers personalised offers on their mobile devices. This is at odds with previous data: How can small retailers expect to offer truly personalised (read: complicated) offers, when (also in our findings) they say they feel – more than any other subset of our overall response group – that they have to catch up to consumer expectations for mobile, but also are a lot less clear about what exactly consumers wants from a mobile presence?

This predicament has clearly stalled their progress, and it may well come back to bite small retailers in the long run. It is only a matter of time until their larger competitors gain momentum, updating the shopping experience by adding in more exciting mobile opportunities.

When that happens, small retailers will no doubt lament missing a genuine window of opportunity to differentiate.

This article originally appeared as on The RSR Research website. It is reproduced with the organisation's permission.