Google caught out by the shift to mobile ‘on a daily basis’, says director for retail Martijn Bertisen

Google is caught out by the increasing consumer shift to mobile “on a daily basis” the search giant’s industry director for retail UK Martijn Bertisen has admitted.

Speaking at the e-commerce expo at London Olympia, for which The Drum is a media partner, Bertisen said that as mobile reaches a tipping point where it overtakes the use of desktop, Google has had to constantly adapt to keep up with the pace of change.

“Mobile is not just difficult for retailers,” he said. “The shift to mobile catches Google out on a daily basis, just because of the enormous pace and gravitas that this is happening with.

“We’ve had to really fundamentally re-think the way we operate, the way we engineer and the way we create out products. But it also give us opportunities to come up with new stuff; the behaviour on mobile is very different and I think about it in two buckets. One, we have to start to suggest information to consumers and secondly we have to start understanding the demands that they place on us.”

He explained that using calendar information, search history and geo-location, the internet giant can suggest information to its users, such as nearby transport and weather information, and cited a recent ad by Google around its search app and voice recognition to keep up with consumer demand.

Speaking about the mobile proposition for retailers as the peak Christmas season begins, Bertisen warned that “if you suck on a mobile device, you’re going to have a really crappy Christmas”.

He went on to stress that with 50 per cent of retail traffic on Google now coming from mobile, retailers must not ignore the medium.

“We [retailers] undervalue mobile, because we’re all looking at how many conversions we get from the mobile site and it’s lower than the desktop; but that’s not actually true. Consumers move between devices and that has value.”

Bertisen drew on insight from a recent Google study that showed 40 per cent of e-commerce sales will come from outside the UK by 2020, and urged brands to: “Get your mobile experience right, use data, test fast and fail fast, but please find what makes you unique and what customers are going to love about you as a retailer.”

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