Savvy retailers large and small have woken up to the fact that their customers are increasingly mobile, especially in their buying preferences. To capitalize on this burgeoning trend, they need to address their customers at each stage of the consumer purchase funnel, a new report says.

Mobile initiatives, said Toni Elkin, author of the new report, “Mobile Web: Best Practices for Retailers,” offer a retailer unique opportunities to engage with customers as they move through each purchase phase — whether they’re in a store, in transit, at work or at home.

During this past holiday spending season, the report said, owners of smartphones used their devices at different stages of the purchase funnel: to receive sales alerts, look for better prices and product reviews and redeem coupons . This gives retailers a huge window of opportunity to connect with consumers and encourage purchasing and loyalty through their mobile devices.

“Forward-thinking retailers are devising mobile strategies to address each stage in the consumer purchase funnel — awareness, engagement, consideration, conversion and loyalty,” Elkin said.

Retailers can use mobile to aid in the awareness stage, for example, by offering mobile websites and apps to help consumers learn about products. They can lure the customer in via the mobile channel through targeted coupons and special offers as well as invitations to participate in sweepstakes and contests.

Consumer consideration can be given a boost through a mobile strategy based on offering complete access to product ratings and reviews , promoting free trials or samples and links to social media feeds so that consumers can see what friends have to say about a potential purchase.

Correctly executed, a mobile strategy can funnel the consumer directly to the purchase and loyalty stages, Elkin believes.

Retailers are heeding mobile’s call. Among U.S. retailers polled last fall, almost two-thirds (60.7 percent) said they planned to beef up their existing mobile web presence or app.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.