3 in 4 Retailers Believe Mobile Will Soon Influence the Majority of Consumers’ Purchases

March 6, 2014

RSR-Retailers-on-Mobile-Influence-on-Consumer-Purchases-Mar2014A new study from RSR Research [download page] indicates that already, almost half of retailers believe that mobile influences consumers’ purchases more than half of the time. And they’re even more confident of mobile’s influence in the years to come: some 44% believe that mobile will in 3 years influence consumers’ purchases at least three-quarters of the time, up from just 9% who currently feel that mobile carries that level of influence. Overall, 75% of the retailers surveyed forecast mobile influencing consumers’ purchases a majority of the time in 3 years, up from 47% this year.

Those aren’t far-fetched figures, either. By mid-year 2013, a comScore report indicated that mobile devices already accounted for a majority share of time spent with online retail sites. In late 2012, a Google study found 2 in 3 respondents using multiple devices to shop online, with almost two-thirds of those purchase journeys beginning on a smartphone.

Mobile’s influence isn’t only online, though. Going back to mid-2012, a Deloitte study revealed that smartphones alone influenced more than 5% of in-store sales. One can only imagine how quickly that figure has risen, given the growth rate of smartphone penetration in the US.

In fact, when RSR surveyed retailers on their mobile strategies, a leading 49% said their purpose was to drive sales to the store, up from 33% in the prior year’s survey. Somewhat fewer – though a notable 41% – are using mobile to provide a new selling channel for existing brands or to launch new products and/or brands.

The adoption of a mobile strategy also brings with it the possibility of deepening engagement with customers. Asked to select the top 3 opportunities from adoption of a mobile strategy, retailers most commonly selected:

  • Deeper customer engagement to drive sales through personalized offers (45%);
  • Deeper customer engagement to build loyalty through mobile channels (41%); and
  • Deeper insights into shopper behavior through mobile site or app insights (35%).

Other Findings:

  • For retailers, the most important mobile capability is the ability to search for and select merchandise. Accordingly, some 6 in 10 have implemented this capability.
  • A significant proportion of respondents (up to about 4 in 10) have no plans to use mobile push communications.
  • Retailers consider customers to be the primary beneficiaries of mobile enablement at their companies, with direct-to-consumer marketing the next-most likely to benefit.
  • Budgeting and ROI challenges clearly top the list of organizational inhibitors standing in the way of retailers taking advantage of mobile’s opportunities.
  • A streamlined technology platform or infrastructure is considered the top way to overcome organizational inhibitors faced by retailers in improving the mobile customer experience.
  • The most valuable technology for retailers is an e-commerce site that can extend to mobile, a finding that aligns with previous research from RSR showing that retailers believe that e-commerce will become the digital platform underpinning all channels.

About the Data: The RSR online survey was conducted from November 2013 to January 2014, receiving answers from 122 qualified retail respondents. A majority have 2011 revenue of more than than $250 million, and 85% have their headquarters in the USA.

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