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US: Retailers' mobile financial investments remain conservative

 US: Retailers' mobile financial investments remain conservative
Friday January 11 2013

According to the 2012 Shop.org/Forrester Research State Of Retailing Online survey, 50% of retailers surveyed say they spent less than $100,000 on smartphone investments in 2011, and 74% spent the same on tablet initiatives.

One year later, those numbers remain conservative, though companies are indicating a desire to grow their investments in tablet initiatives; on average, retailers plan to invest $207,000 in 2012, compared with an average of $55,000 spent in 2011. Forrester's "The State Of Retailing Online" research series provides eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals with annual industry benchmarks of marketing and business investment and activities.

"It's easy to forget that mobile retailing is still in its infancy; unlike what we saw with eCommerce just 10 short years ago, mobile is almost entirely consumer-driven," said Shop.org Executive Director Vicki Cantrell. "As mobile grows, so too will retailers' investments in technologies that make sense for their shoppers, but to get to that level of commitment, retailers must first take smart, calculated steps to maximize the mobile shopping experience now and in the future."

The survey did find, however, that more retailers have entered the fray over the past year. In fiscal year 2011, 18% of those surveyed said their company made no investment in tablet initiatives, and 14% said the same for smartphone initiatives; in 2012, only 9% of companies say they will make no investments in tablets or smartphones.

Retailers Are Focusing On In-Store Technologies, Mobile Site Optimisation

As part of their mobile investments, and in addition to the consumer-facing technologies that retailers are leveraging, retailers are also focusing on in-store technologies such as mobile points of sale (POS) and are perfecting site optimization features for smartphone- and tablet-toting shoppers. According to the survey, 45% of companies have already implemented or are planning to implement e-receipts in their stores in the next two years, and more than half (57%) say they have or will have mobile point-of-sale options for their stores within the next two years.

With the majority of retailers' web traffic coming from web browsers, even when a mobile app exists and is promoted, retailers are focusing on mobile site optimization features as a more cost-effective solution than building apps. Six in 10 (60%) companies surveyed say they have a special mobile site that is optimized for web browsers.

Retailers Face A Gamut Of Challenges In Deploying Mobile

When asked what their company's greatest internal challenges are as they relate to deploying and managing their mobile initiatives, it's clear the problems run deep. Six in 10 (60%) say their business objectives for mobile initiatives are unclear, and another four in 10 (40%) say a lack of experience in other areas, such as designing for smartphone and tablet formats, is presenting challenges. Additionally, 36% say obtaining adequate budget for mobile initiatives, including staff, is a top concern.

"While consumers are rapidly adopting smartphones and tablets, and there is no shortage of companies eager to provide mobile offerings to retailers," notes Forrester Research Vice President and Principal Analyst Sucharita Mulpuru, "retail executives are taking a measured view of the immediate benefits of these efforts — in part because of the myriad challenges that must be considered when investing in mobile for their company."
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