Businesses are unprepared for the rise of 4G networks and the impact, both positive and negative, they could have on the future of online retailing, according to new research from Barclays.
The Barclays Online Business Outlook 2013 found 89 percent of the 302 firms that generate the majority of revenue online have not optimised their sites for mobile devices, despite a continuous rise in sales from smartphones and tablets.
Barclays said this is a glaring oversight as firms that do have dedicated apps for mobile retail generated around £2.5m in revenue in 2012.
The economic potential from mobile retail is only set to grow as 4G networks come online and offer the opportunity for faster and richer experiences on mobile devices. However, many firms are unprepared, or even unaware, of this potential.
The survey found 25 percent of online firms had not heard of 4G and 37 percent knew nothing about it, while 45 percent admit they are unsure if their website could cope with an increase in traffic that 4G networks could cause.
Barclay’s managing director for Technology, Media and Telecoms, Sean Duffy, told V3 online firms, no matter how successful they may be now, must remember, “the world does not stand still” and ensure they prepare for the next stage of online retail.
“4G is only going to increase people’s desire to shop online and so it’s surprising online companies are not investing enough to take advantage of that,” he said.
“This will also mean more sales will be done over mobile devices and some firms are not doing enough to offer a good experience on devices like smartphones and tablets to meet this.”
The report also highlighted that one in 10 UK firms are losing revenue because of web outages. The report claimed £170,000 is lost on average, with downtime representing seven days worth of trading.
“If you’re an online business then the resilience of your systems is critical and so you need back-up facilities,” he added.
Despite the issues raised by the survey the overall market is in rude health with growth experienced by online retail firms at 11.4 percent. This is over 50 times faster than the national GDP, which has grown at just 0.2 percent over the past three years.
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