SYDNEY, July 23, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Research sponsored by NetSuite Inc. (NYSE: N), the industry's leading provider of cloud-based financials / ERP and omnichannel commerce software suites, and the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), has revealed that 52 percent of smartphone users are now using their devices to assist them at some stage of the shopping process, an increase from 38 percent in 2011. The study, conducted by Frost & Sullivan, indicates just how unprepared Australian retailers are to handle this shifting behaviour. Less than 30 percent of retailers currently offer a smartphone-accessible website and only 21 percent have developed a mobile app for customers, despite the fact that approximately 65 percent of the population owns a smartphone. A more detailed analysis of the research can be found in the Frost and Sullivan whitepaper: " Mobility: The New Opportunity for Australia's Retailers." The Frost & Sullivan study of 120 ARA members (focusing on smaller retailers with less than 50 outlets) was carried out in June 2014 to understand how retailers are adapting to the growing use of mobile devices as an integral part of the shopping process. The study revealed that while most retailers recognise the importance of developing a mobile strategy, many still face major barriers in doing so, particularly the cost and complexity of linking new systems designed to support mobility with existing in-store business systems. "The rapid growth in ownership and usage of smartphones is revolutionising the way that Australian consumers shop," said Mark Dougan, Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand at Frost & Sullivan. "The ability to access the Internet whilst on the move has transformed many aspects of consumer behaviour. Consumers are increasingly using their smartphones for shopping to research, compare, share, purchase and pay for merchandise." Leveraging smartphones throughout the shopping processAccording to the study, smartphones are not being used purely as a device to make an online purchase, but are an essential element of an omnichannel shopping experience that still often involves the use of a physical store. Almost 40 percent of consumers that start researching a product on their smartphone actually end up buying it in-store. These shoppers are using smartphones throughout the shopping process for researching (29 percent) and evaluating products (19 percent), with only four percent actually making a purchase on their smartphone and three percent writing reviews afterwards. To support this new generation of omnichannel shoppers, Frost & Sullivan recommends that Australian retailers provide features and services to meet their customers' mobile needs. The study revealed the features that consumers place value on, including free WiFi (68 percent), stock level information (58 percent), directions to relevant departments (57 percent), customer reviews (50 percent), product information (48 percent), and being able to purchase using their smartphone (43 percent).