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Retailers hop on digital movement to capture consumers, report shows

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NEW YORK As consumers seek an enhanced shopping experience with digital applications and various mobile technologies, nearly 3-out-of-4 retailers now have some type of mobile initiative in place, and another 20% are in the process of evaluating the mobile channel, according to a new study by Forbes Insights.

The study -- Retail's Mobility Imperative: A Measured Approach to the Emerging Channel -- surveyed more than 300 executives at leading U.S. retailers and found that in addition to exploring the mobile channel to reach consumers, almost half (47%) of the retailers surveyed said their approach to the mobile channel was being driven by a desire to capture "first-mover advantage" and help them increase their engagement with mobile customers.

"The ubiquity of mobile devices is changing how retailers interact with their customers," said Stuart Feil, editorial director of Forbes Insights. "The study shows that retailers are eager to take advantage of the power that smartphones put in consumers' pockets and purses. Still, these retail chains are facing challenges in creating cohesive, integrated strategies in this fast-moving marketplace."

Among the key findings from Retail's Mobility Imperative are:

  • Satisfaction and loyalty are foundational to many retailers' mobile strategies; their mobile channel efforts are being driven primarily by their desires to improve customer service (37%) and enhance customer loyalty (36%)
  • Mobile application development will shift over the next year. Today, customer service (59%) and product availability (55%) are the top apps. A year from now, personalization (55%) and phone-enabled loyalty programs (53%) will lead the way
  • Mobile initiatives will be getting a bigger share of retailers' marketing budgets in the next three years. Today, 66% of respondents said mobile gets less than 10% of their marketing budget, and just 8% say it makes up 20% or more of spend. In three years, however, 31% said mobile will get less than 10% of marketing dollars, and 31% say it will get 20% or more
  • A good deal of focus is being placed on integrating mobile initiatives with physical stores, websites, and other sales and service channels. Today, just 13% of retail respondents said mobile was fully integrated with these channels, but 40% expect full integration a year from now
  • Retailers are seeing a solid return on their mobile channel investments; 62% say their mobile channel returns are either exceeding (17%) or meeting (45%) expectations.

Click here to download the study.

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