A new report from e-commerce platform maker Demandware dug into today's mobile shopping trends among consumers and found that retailers are falling short of delivering the experiences customers want. Although there's high demand for things like barcode scanning, branded applications, mobile checkout, price comparison services, mobile coupons, access to mobile product information and more, many retailers simply aren't offering these types of tools to their customers.

Big Gaps Found

Some of the biggest gaps between customer demand and the current offerings included the following:

  • 23% of consumers download a branded shopping application, 50% plan to do it the future, but only 12% of retailers offer one.
  • 54% of consumers want barcodes and smart tags in magazines to link to store catalogs or websites, but only 12% of retailers offer this feature, too.
  • 62% of consumers want to shop using mobile apps or websites, but only 32% of retailers offer this option.
  • 38% of consumers want to check product availability using their mobile phone, and 52% expect to do it in the future, but only 29% of retailers provide this option now.
  • 51% of consumers want to add items to their carts via mobile phones and then complete the transaction later using a PC or tablet, but only 23% of retailers allow this now.

It's interesting to compare these shortcomings with additional data from Forrester's latest Mobile Commerce Forecast, which found that only 2% of retailers' Web sales will come from mobile devices in 2011. Mobile commerce, says the research firm's analyst Suchartia Mulpuru, will remain a small portion of a retailers' business. Although mobile commerce is expected to grown 40% each year for the next 5 years, it will only reach 7% of Web sales penetration by 2016, she notes.

This is due to a number of factors, explains Mulpuru, one being that tablets (which Forrester doesn't include in its definition of mobile) are preferred over smartphones for online commerce because of their larger screens. Also, shopping as an activity has never been one of the more popular Web behaviors, always ranking below things like "reading news" or "using social networks." Finally, consumers often use the Web and mobiles to do product research or compare prices, but complete transactions in a physical store.

That doesn't mean that mobile has no role to play in the mobile commerce revolution, however. Mobile commerce will "transform retail," Mulpuru says, because it empowers customers and makes pricing much more transparent. Big box stores will be forced to become much better merchants, Mulpuru concludes, "or die."