A survey conducted at the 2013 Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition by EPiServer reveals that retailers currently view mobile strategies as being best suited for increasing customer loyalty. Survey respondents included high-ranking individuals from over one hundred different organizations, which in turn included manufacturers, catalogers, wholesalers, local-retailers, and exclusively online retailers.
In answering the survey, respondents showed that they believe mobile technology can best serve them by functioning as a way for retailers to ramp up brand loyalty and deliver tailored experiences for customers. This is opposed to viewing mobile sales as a significant source of revenue. In other words, they think that mobile technology can make people like their business, but that those people aren’t necessarily going to make purchases via their mobile devices.
According to MadMobile News, this viewpoint is due to what EPiSever calls “The Amazon effect.” To put it simply, retailers are hard pressed to compete with Amazon and other major e-commerce companies when it comes to price. This is a problem we’ve addressed before; if all a customer cares about is cost, the first place they’re going to check—and the place they’re most likely to buy from—is Amazon or eBay. This puts smaller retailers in a tough spot. That’s where many retailers believe mobile strategies can play a key role, according to these survey results. Maybe a retailer can’t beat Amazon’s price, but they might be able to offer a cool app or a personalized mobile experience that customers will like. It’s through this kind of connection that they hope to lure customers away from the powerhouse retailers.
That sounds like a good plan, but maybe they—and you—should be careful not to completely disregard the sales potential of mobile devices. Despite their priorities and expectations, 22% of retailers responded to the survey that at least 20% of their total sales come from mobile sales. This is up from last year, when 16% said the same. Do two years make a trend? Perhaps not, but I’d wager that this number will be higher next year. And it makes sense—if a customer grows to love your business via a mobile device, and it’s easy to patronize your business via that same mobile device, when it comes time to click “buy now,” more and more will just go ahead and use their smartphone or tablet instead of jogging over to a computer and bringing up a separate website.
Speaking of websites, according to the survey most retailers are currently planning to focus their digital efforts in the upcoming years on their websites. But, 35% did say that their biggest investment will be in mobile devices. Will these retailers see a satisfactory return on their investment? Only time (and effort) will tell.
What does this mean for your business? I’m certainly not suggesting you funnel your entire budget into developing a chirpy, brightly colored app. But it seems like a given that as people are increasingly glued to their smartphones mobile commerce will become an increasingly safe bet.
Written by Alex Mehler
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