Washington, 2016-1-11 — /EPR Retail News/ — The growing use of smartphones by consumers, a shift in investments by technology companies and continued optimization strategies from retailers has officially landed smartphones on top as a driver of sales and traffic for retail companies. According to the State of Retailing Online 2016, conducted by Shop.org, Forrester Research Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR) and Bizrate Insights, mobile as a percentage of both online sales and traffic is now led by smartphones and not tablets.
Specifically, retailers surveyed report smartphone sales accounted for 17 percent of their total online sales in 2015, edging ahead of the 14 percent generated via tablets. Overall, retailers said sales from smartphone devices grew 53 percent over the previous year, while sales from tablet devices grew 32 percent.
According to the report, retailers continue to keep their mobile investments at a more moderate level: 30 percent of those surveyed say they invested less than $10,000 on smartphone platforms in 2015, and 17 percent kept budgets between $10,000 and $50,000. When it comes to tablets, the investments are even smaller. Nearly four in 10 (37%) said they made no additional investment in their tablet offerings in 2015, compared to 18 percent who left smartphones out of their investment plans for 2015; 11 percent of retailers surveyed said they put $10,000 to $50,000 into tablet investments last year.
“Retailers are now recognizing that their customers may not need a bigger, more expansive shopping experience on mobile platforms – they need a consistent, relevant and user-friendly experience that will shape their online and in-store shopping behaviors,” said NRF Senior Vice President and Shop.org Executive Director Vicki Cantrell. “Even with relatively small investments in their mobile initiatives, retailers are seeing tremendous growth in both sales that come from smartphones and the level of customer engagement from mobile across the brand.”
“Retailers are building their mobile platforms with strong customer engagement strategies in mind, allowing their shoppers to easily ‘click and buy’ or research in-store availability,” continued Cantrell. “For today’s consumer, this is all just a part of modern-day shopping; though for retailers, it’s a constant balance of where and how much to invest into the mobile experience and infrastructure.”
That said, the report did find that more mobile investment is on the horizon for retailers. And, it’s clear smartphones are where retailers have earmarked this investment. The survey found that one-third of retailers surveyed plan to grow their smartphone investments more than 20 percent in 2016, and another 34 percent will grow their investments between 1 and 20 percent. One in five (22%) will grow their tablet investment more than 20 percent in 2016.
“It’s the age of the customer and retailers need to be wherever shoppers are when they’re browsing and buying. It’s essential to provide value on those devices and in those moments, which are often in stores,” Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst Sucharita Mulpuru said. “While mobile phones still represent promise, savvy retailers will be leveraging mobile with their customers to positively influence in-store sales as well.”
Tablets growing in importance for store associates
Tablets may ultimately find a bigger purpose in stores, helping store associates provide greater service to customers.
The survey found that of the 36 percent who use mobile devices in stores, one-quarter of those use tablets. Two in five (44%) say their associates use tablets to show additional products not available in stores and four in 10 use the devices to send e-receipts; 23 percent use them to check inventory in warehouses and 21 percent use tablets to check their actual in-store inventory.
Media can request a copy of the complete report by emailing email@example.com.
About the State of Retailing Online Report
The State Of Retailing Online research series, which provides eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals with annual industry benchmarks of marketing and business investment and activities, surveyed 195 companies in September and October 2015. Industries surveyed included apparel, footwear, general merchandise, home furnishings, and personal care.
About Forrester Research
Forrester Research is one of the most influential research and advisory firms in the world. We work with business and technology leaders to develop customer-obsessed strategies that drive growth. Forrester’s unique insights are grounded in annual surveys of more than 500,000 consumers and business leaders worldwide, rigorous and objective methodologies, and the shared wisdom of our most innovative clients. Through proprietary research, data, custom consulting, exclusive executive peer groups, and events, the Forrester experience is about a singular and powerful purpose: to challenge the thinking of our clients to help them lead change in their organizations.
About Bizrate Insights
With over 27 million surveys collected annually from over 6,000 retailers worldwide, Bizrate Insights is one of the largest sources of verified customer-generated seller ratings and reviews, helping both retailers and consumers make informed decisions. Bizrate Insights’ solutions cover online and mobile visitors, online and mobile buyers, as well as retail store buyers. Our core solutions are free, allowing retailers of all sizes to build best-in-class customer experiences, gain competitive intelligence, and attract more qualified traffic from top search engines.
Shop.org, a division of the National Retail Federation, is the world’s leading community for digital retail, offering thought leadership through original research and gold standard events. The community is made up of exclusive networking groups and committees that lead the global conversation surrounding innovative e-commerce trends and digital retail. Shop.org members include some of the world’s largest most respected retail, technology, research, and consulting companies. www.shop.org
Kathy Grannis Allen
SOURCE: National Retail Federation