Retailers need to adopt a mobile-first approach

Consumers pivot to mobile as preferred route to access internet. For retailers, mobile should be at the heart of digital strategies.


Developments in mobile technology combined with a continued evolution in social media culture have driven a change in the way consumers interact with their mobile devices and consequently engage with brands and retailers. While retailers continue to pour money into desktop interactions, consumers are pivoting to mobile as the most popular route to access the internet and the main channel that customers use across the entire purchase journey.

From inspiration and product discovery to decision-making and ultimately transacting, smartphones are now the primary touchpoint with businesses. For retailers, the implications of this shift are clear: mobile should be at the heart of digital strategies and digital product development. This mobile-first mandate is arguably the most significant consumer trend of recent times.

Having a mobile presence and being mobile first are two different things.


Many retailers tend to view mobile as merely an extension of online experiences. However, the real value of mobile lies in the notion that it extends, augments and transforms the digital commerce customer experience. This mandate has moved from a ‘nice to have’ to a strategic necessity as consumers increasingly rely on mobile devices, particularly smartphones, to facilitate all aspects of their daily lives, both digital and physical. Consumers have moved on and retailers need to catch up.

Key Findings

Customers increasingly dwell in the digital confines of the mobile world; therefore, so too must retailers. Having a mobile presence and being mobile first are two different things.


As a baseline, customers expect retailers to have a mobile presence—a functional app and mobile site. Yet this is something many retailers still have not successfully achieved.


Globally, we’ve reached a tipping point with mCommerce (mobile commerce—sales made through smartphones and tablets). According to research, mCommerce accounts for about 35 percent of all online retail transactions this year, compared to 30 percent last year.


Today, six out of the top 10 most used apps are messaging apps. Looking to the future, it’s likely that mobile will be most significantly impacted by messaging apps and social media because of the sheer reach and customer base they support.


Provide a moment of delight.

Retailers should use mobile to enhance the customer experience across the whole purchase journey.

At Accenture, we believe the following elements provide the right foundation for a mobile-first mindset and are critical to achieving this culture shift.

  • A mobile lifecycle – building a scalable and reusable mobile platform, using the principle of continuous integration and frequent releases is a pre-requisite for a mobile-first experience. 

  • An investment pivot – retailers should review their technology investment strategy to ensure alignment with changing shopper habits.

  • Customer-led rapid prototyping – one of the best methods that support the development of new features is attempting to solve customer problems or provide moments of delight.

  • A foot in the future – it is important to continue scanning the market to understand new disruptive technologies, start-ups or trends that could enhance or put at risk your customer experience. 

Andrew Carlisle

Andrew Carlisle

Retail Managing Director

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Spencer Terry

Spencer Terry

Retail Management Consulting

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