Survey: Retailers Increasing Mobile And Social Efforts

5/ 3/11-  A growing number of retailers are experimenting with mobile and social marketing & media initiatives; some are paying immediate dividends and some are still speculative. According to a Forrester Research survey, 91 percent of retailers currently have a mobile strategy in place or in development, up from 74 percent a year ago. 72 percent of retailers say they will increase their spending on social networks this year over last year.  Retailers report that 21 percent of all mobile traffic is coming from tablets, amazing considering the iPad was launched barely a year ago. Although overall mobile traffic and revenue has not increased dramatically, studies suggest that investment levels in site optimization may still be inadequate. 48 percent of retailers report having a mobile-optimized website; 35 percent have deployed an iPhone app; and 15 percent offer an Android app and an iPad app, respectively. Challenges for retailers include differentiating the consumer experience on a tablet versus a smartphone and figuring out features and functionality and dueling app/mobile ecosystems.

Retailers’ main focus right now should be leveraging the tremendous popularity of tablet devices, such as the iPad. “Smart retailers  are creating mobile apps that make their brands seem current, entertaining and fun, while creating an opportunity to connect with more shoppers than ever before.

In past years, social networks surfaced higher as an investment area among retailers. This year, social networks ranked fourth on the list of successful customer acquisition sources, up significantly from last year. ROI from social is still seen by many as “muddy”: 62 percent of retailers said the returns on social marketing strategies are unclear, and almost  the same percentage said the main takeaway from social marketing is listening to and gaining better understanding customers.

This data indicates that most retailers are making significant investments in social and mobile tactics this year. Retailers and marketers executives should have modest expectations for the benefits of social media marketing for now. In mobile, the best retailers will be working to increasingly integrate features and functionality into the store experience because while consumers may not be extensively using mobile for product information yet, basic store information,  pricing and easy checkout capabilities are  presenting the biggest opportunities for most retailers sites in the near term.

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