News

Survey: Retailers focusing on mobile site optimization and in-store technologies

BY Marianne Wilson

Denver — Retailers remain conservative when it comes to financial investments in mobile and tablet initiatives despite the industry buzz, according to a survey by Shop.org and Forrester Research Inc.

In the report, the 2012 State Of Retailing Online survey, 50% of the retailers surveyed said they spent less than $100K on smartphone investments in 2011, and 74% spent the same on tablet initiatives. One year later, the numbers remain conservative, but companies are increasing their investments: On average retailers plan to invest $207K in 2012, compared to an average of $55K spent in 2011.

“It’s easy to forget that mobile retailing is still in its infancy, and unlike what we saw with e-commerce 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 shopper, but to get to that level of commitment, retailers must first take smart, calculated steps to maximize the mobile shopping experience both now and in the future.”

The survey also found that more retailers have entered the playing field over the last year. In fiscal year 2011, 18% of those surveyed say 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 for tablet or smartphones.
The report finds that, as part of their mobile investments, retailers are also focusing on in-store technologies such as mobile point-of-sale, and perfecting site optimization features for smartphone and tablet toting shoppers. According to the survey, 45% of companies have already or are planning to implement e-Receipts in their stores in the next two years, and 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.

When asked what their company’s greatest internal challenges are as they relate to deploying and managing their mobile initiatives, the answers 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 are 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,” said Forrester Research VP 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 of challenges that must be considered when investing in mobile for their company.”

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STORE SPACES

Casey’s picks up 22 Kum & Go stores

BY Marianne Wilson

Des Moines, Iowa — Kum & Go and Casey’s General Stores announced that they have signed an agreement for Casey’s to acquire 22 convenience stores from Kum & Go.

The stores are located in Iowa, Missouri and North Dakota.

“These stores are an excellent fit to our existing store base and will allow us an opportunity to operate in a new state,” said Robert J. Myers, president and CEO of Casey’s. “We expect this acquisition to be accretive in the first year of operation and enhance future earnings as we integrate our prepared food operations.”

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OPERATIONS

Cisco study: CE retailers should market products and services to less tech-informed consumers

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — There is a new opportunity for retailers to market beyond the technology savvy and often male consumer pool to a larger group of less technology informed with customer service programs that provide basic device educational training around devices and product bundling to ease the buying experience, according to a survey by Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG).

The study finds that while the early adopter segment for consumer electronics is comprised largely of young affluent males, the leaders in digital content consumption — including Internet-based video, digital imagery and social media — are women. However, companies that sell consumer technology devices may be are singularly ill-equipped to maximize device sales because their messaging and in-store marketing efforts are skewed to young male early adopters. With females noted as the leaders in digital content consumption, retailers need to rethink their marketing, the report recommends.

In other findings:

  • More than 20% of the industry’s most active users seldom or never buy accessories, and more than 36% of that same group seldom or never buys go-with items. There is a clear correlation between a respondent’s confidence in using advanced device features, and how much they buy at retail.
  • Roughly one-third of today’s most active personal technology users don’t know how to use the products they purchase. They lack confidence in their ability to choose, operate, and connect today’s devices – and that’s even among the early adopters of the latest devices and digital content. Customers simply don’t have the knowledge to take full advantage of the devices’ capabilities.
  • According to Cisco, retailers can increase revenues by bridging the confidence and knowledge gap with “orchestration” services that include: aggregating all elements required to create a solution for device usage; assembling all the elements to complete a solution; and educating consumers about what’s available, what’s possible and how to put it all together.

The report notes that one of the best examples of orchestration is the Genius Bar found in Apple’s retail stores. Other examples include personal shopping and wardrobe services provided by the likes of Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus; wine and cooking classes offered by upper-end grocers; and virtual kitchen design services tested at select Home Depot locations. With few exceptions, including Best Buy’s Geek Squad, few CE retailers offer orchestration services, according to the report.

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