October 2, 2009, 12:00 AM

Retail chains like mobile, web merchants prefer social, study says

When asked to name high value e-commerce opportunities among emerging technologies, retail chains favored mobile commerce while merchants operating mostly on the web chose online social networks, Retail Systems Research says in a new study.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

When asked to name high value e-commerce opportunities among emerging technologies, retail chains favored mobile commerce while merchants operating mostly on the web chose online social networks, research and advisory firm Retail Systems Research LLC says in a new study.

The study, “Online Commerce in 2009: The Game Has Changed-Have Retailers?” notes that retailers overall place emerging technologies fairly low on their list of opportunities that could bring high value to their business, with only 39% of retailers citing emerging technologies like mobile commerce and social networks among their high-value opportunities.

Instead, the largest group of retailers, or 66%, cited improving online merchandising; 60%, cross-channel capabilities; 54%, search and browse capabilities; 50%, fulfillment processes; 47%, customer acquisition; 43%, web site performance.

Among multichannel retail chains alone, however, 77% said they saw high value in mobile commerce as a way to connect the online world with physical stores.

Retailers that conduct three quarters or more of their business online, however, are more likely than chain retailers to see value in social networks and communities, the study says.

"Store-based retailers view mobile as an opportunity to connect their various channels," says Retail Systems Research managing partner Nikki Baird. "Online retailers view social media as an opportunity to provide a more engaging online experience."

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