Survey: Mobile Still Tops Retailers’ Priority Lists

As more consumers take to shopping on their smartphones and tablets, retailers seem to be keeping mobile at the top of their marketing priority lists, according to the 2015 Shop.org/Forrester Research Inc. “State of Retailing Online.” Mobile remains the top priority for retailers in 2015, with 58% of surveyed retailers placing it at the top of their list, up from 53% last year.

The survey found smartphone sales as a percentage of online sales grew from 8% in 2013 to 12% in 2014, an increase of 50%; tablets’ share of the pie also grew from 13% of online sales in 2013 to 16% in 2014, according to the survey.

Additionally, many of those retailers who list mobile as the top priority have stated their digital marketing budgets remain modest, knowing consumers are coming to their mobile sites whether they are ready for them or not. Of those retailers surveyed, 32% report spending less than $100,000 on their smartphone development efforts in 2014; 68% report spending less than $1 million on smartphone developments last year. When it comes to tablets, 4% said they invested between $100,000 and $250,000 last year while eight in 10 surveyed plan to increase their mobile budgets by at least 20% in 2015.

“Consumers are flocking to retailers’ mobile sites at a faster pace and with more interaction than ever before, so naturally they expect retailers to offer fast, well-designed mobile services that meet their needs,” said svp/NRF and Shop.org executive director Vicki Cantrell. “With that in mind and with several years of mobile commerce now under the industry’s belt, retailers feel confident in their mobile investments. For retailers, when it comes to mobile strategies, small but continuous incremental changes really do go a long way to keep their savvy customers happy.”

Retailers surveyed also cited omnichannel efforts as their second priority behind mobile. The survey found 45% of those surveyed hope to improve or invest in programs like buy online-pick up in store, ship-from-store and inventory visibility, up from 26% who listed omnichannel efforts as a priority last year. Additionally, nearly four in 10 (38%) surveyed said marketing optimization was their third priority for 2015, which includes initiatives around customer retention and acquisition. 

High costs to develop and manage company-specific apps, compared to optimizing mobile websites, have also changed how some companies are prioritizing their mobile marketing budgets. More than half (56%) of retailers surveyed said that apps are not a key component of their mobile marketing strategy, and an even greater percentage agreed apps are not critical to their employee strategy, the survey said.