Your customers are mobile. Why aren’t you?

Australian consumers have been early adopters of technology for decades. We buy devices, connect to the internet and try out gadgets faster than almost any other nation. Australia ranks second, ahead of the US, UK and Japan in smartphone usage. Google expects this trend to accelerate, with 1 percent to 2 percent of the entire Australian population purchasing a smartphone every month.

The impact on businesses is significant:

  • Almost 50 percent of people use their smartphone to research and then call businesses.
  • 45 percent of people visit businesses that they have found using their smartphone.

Despite the opportunity, businesses have consistently failed to meet their customers’ online expectations. Corporate and business websites languish in the dark areas of the web, as social media sites see a boom in their traffic. Some of the reasons include:

  • Many businesses lack a basic website

It is a truism that “you get what you pay for”. Many businesses are desperately unprepared for the world of the web, let alone the world of mobile. Business owners and marketers will grudgingly hand over thousands of dollars for directory listings, yet hesitate to invest even moderate amounts of money into professional web development.

  • Mobile web is a step too far

Without an adequate website in the first place, businesses struggle to consider extending their online presence to the mobile web. There is neither a budget nor appetite for mobile sites.

In July last year, PwC estimated that Australians spend an upward of $16 billion per year online. While this is a significant amount, in the retail world it’s only equal to 75% of 1 month’s seasonally adjusted retail spending.

But it’s not the raw numbers that we should consider as we look ahead in 2013. It is the trend.

Not only are we shopping more online, we are doing a lot of traditional things online. We do banking on our phones, share and write restaurant reviews online, collect photos of dream holiday destinations on Pinterest, share tips about our favourite shops, playgrounds and parks on Foursquare and measure our fitness levels on Runkeeper.

An increasingly large part of your customer’s’ discretionary attention is taken up with internet usage. A recent Nielsen report reveals that Australians spend 48 hours per month on the web (up from 42.5 hours in 2011). But the Australian Communications and Media Authority puts that figure close to double at 82 hours per month. Either way, with almost a quarter of our web traffic being delivered to smartphones, it’s clear that our digital strategy must change accordingly.

If your business is way behind the digital learning curve, perhaps it’s time to consider a “mobile first” approach.

And remember, if you aren’t keeping an eye on your customers, you can bet your rivals are.