January 15, 2013, 3:27 PM

Mobile commerce should enhance the brand and extend e-commerce, retailers say

A new report delves into the goals and challenges of m-commerce.

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86% of retailers in a new survey strongly agree or agree that the purpose of their mobile commerce strategy is to enhance the overall brand. 85% strongly agree or agree that the purpose is to serve as an extension of the existing e-commerce offering, 81% drive sales to stores, 79% provide a new selling channel for the existing brand, 75% keep up with competitors, 65% empower employees, 65% provide a way to launch new products and/or brand, and 41% give consumers the ability to match products/prices with competitors, finds “The Impact of Mobile in Retail,” a report from Retail Systems Research LLC.

The research and consulting firm surveyed executives at 93 retail organizations of different size and in various product categories, from numerous countries across the globe, mostly from the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Retail Systems Research breaks out some data by types of respondents it has established. Retail winners are those retailers that have an annual comparable-store/channel sales growth greater than 5%. Average retailers are those with 5% annual comparable-store/channel sales growth. And laggards are those with less than 5% annual comparable-store/channel sales growth.

“It is consistent throughout much of RSR’s research findings that winners don’t merely do the same things better, they tend to do different things,” the report says. “They think differently. They plan differently. They respond differently.”

When asked which is the best policy for equipping store employees to deal with mobile-informed customers, 26% of winners and 16% of all others said to provide mobile devices to store/department managers, the survey says. 24% of winners and 21% of all others said to provide mobile devices to all employees, and 16% of winners and 18% of all others said to encourage employees to use their own devices in stores. 32% of winners and 36% of all others said this is not yet an issue, and 3% of winners and 9% of all others don’t operate stores. Totals do not add up to 100% due to rounding.

The majority of retailers believe in three years more of their sales will be influenced by the mobile channel, the survey finds. 58% of winners, 37% of average retailers and 43% of laggards believe significantly more of their annual sales will be influenced by mobile; 32% of winners, 37% of average retailers and 21% of laggards slightly more; 8% of winners, 20% of average retailers and 14% of laggards about the same; 3% of winners, 7% of average retailers and 7% of laggards virtually all sales; and 0% of winners, 0% of average retailers and 14% of laggards less.

Retailers point to a variety of challenges that stand in the way of mobile opportunities, the survey finds:

  • 66% of winners and 47% of all others say they do not have enough e-commerce or mobile resources to take advantage of all mobile opportunities.
  • 63% of winners and 22% of all others point to difficulty in obtaining I.T. resources for mobile projects.
  • 63% of winners and 67% of all others budgeting and return on investment challenges.
  • 31% of winners and 33% of all others stores don’t understand the mobile and cross-channel opportunities.
  • 28% of winners and 19% of all others no clear owner has been identified.
  • 16% of winners and 28% of all others don’t know how to turn data gained from mobile channels into actionable intelligence.
  • 13% of winners and 31% of all others mobile technology changes too quickly to be able to make solid investments.
  • 6% of winners and 19% of all others the executive team doesn’t understand the mobile opportunity.

“One of the biggest inhibitors that winners in particular are dealing with in addressing the mobile imperative is the shortage of internal skills in either the e-commerce group or I.T. to pursue the opportunity. There is only one short-term solution for that, and that is to go out and find the talent,” the report says. “But that brings up the issue of a challenging ROI: retailers balk at investing too much in a direction that they are unsure of. This brings us to our top recommendation, to not underestimate mobile’s influence. Retailers should assume that all of consumers’ purchase decisions will be made with the influence of information made available on mobile devices.”

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