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Aussies like to talk. And shop. That’s why we have the second highest ownership of smartphones in the world. And Google has just released data that shows 2011 was biggest year yet for Oz online retail – which showed a 29% jump in shopping-related searches on 2010.

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Aussies are getting their retail kicks from mobile shopping.

While 1 in 5 Australian smartphone owners surveyed have used their device to make a purchase, almost 50% are using it to research retail locations for instance, in their area, like ‘JB Hi Fi, Bondi Junction’

And good news for troubled high street retailers – this year, the “Christmas miracle is mobile” Google believes.

The new data reveals a dramatic 220% year on year increase in retail queries via mobiles and one in four Christmas shopping-related Google searches came from mobiles.

IPSOS Research recently showed Australia has the second highest smartphone penetration in the world.

By the end of this year, more than 50% of Australian adults will own a high end mobile and Google expects this to grow further (good news for Google’s Android OS). 

So what are people searching for? People are searching more and more for big brands, products and locations, for instance ‘David Jones, Chatswood’, Ross McDonald, Google Australia’s Head of Retail told SmartHouse.

Aussies are also scavenging for food and drink retail on their mobiles, up 31 percent. So what are major buying trends among Australians for Christmas 2011?

Overall it is too early to see major Christmas product trends emerging,  says the Google boss, but says there will be a major spike in transactions in the two weeks before Christmas, so it will be much clearer by then.

However, although mobile web is in its early days, Google’s retail boss noted stores are working hard to catch up.

The likes of Myer and Bunnings have done a good job to date, he noted, but it is important to realise online is different to mobile web experience. Locations and opening hours are usually the most prominent links on a mobile website.

And mobile transactions are growing all the time and at the moment people are researching from their smartphones more  than actually purchasing goods.

But will this change as smartphones seep further into consumer shopping norms?

Yes, as the technology continues to improve,” says McDonald. But “people use mobiles in preference to computers more and more,” he added and expects mobile penetration to grow beyond 50% mark here.

“Mobile is still new technology,” he adds so retailers still need to work out what working and what doesn’t.

 

But even as consumers embrace the mobile revolution, most businesses haven’t even noticed the change; Google estimates that 80% of advertisers don’t have mobile-friendly websites, which means they’re invisible to people trying to find them on mobile.

“If you asked a business owner whether she’d ignore every fourth customer to walk in her shop this Christmas season, the answer would certainly be no,” said McDonald.

“But with 25% of Christmas shopping-related queries coming in on mobile, not having a mobile website is basically the same thing. The missed potential is huge.”

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