New research by UK bank Barclays revealed that sales via mobile devices are forecast to grow rapidly but traditional retailers appear unconcerned by the radical implications for their business.
Consumers are set to splash out £53.6 billion annually in the UK via smartphones and tablets by 2024, up from £9.7 billion today.
Almost half (46 per cent) of retailers claims that at least some of their sales are already generated through a mobile device. Yet, less than three per cent believe their business is really adopting a mobile-first strategy and a further 70 per cent do not have a mobile website or an app for consumers.
The figures are surprising given how the retail sector is widely perceived to face a threat from tactics such as so-called showrooming, where consumers scan goods in store but purchase cheaper on line.
Looking forward, less than one third of retailers has a clear plan for mobile investment with more than two thirds (68 per cent) admitting they had no specific plans.
Of those with mobile plans, developing a mobile website, app and payments capabilities were the top priorities.
However, most consumers quizzed about what they wanted from retailers on the mobile front said free in-store Wi-Fi was the top priority (57 per cent).
Retailers say they are reluctant to adopt mobile strategies because they feel the technology has simply displaced existing sales, rather than generating additional business.
They are also concerned that a mobile strategy adds significantly to the cost of doing business online.
But the sector will struggle to continue turning a blind eye. The survey points out that in five years mobile in the UK will generate the same sales as a chain of 30,000 shops – that’s three times the size of Walmart, the world’s largest retailer.