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Study: Retailers focus on growing mobile market

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Huntington Beach, Calif. — To capture and capitalize on mobile traffic growth, retailers are looking to optimize their digital marketing campaigns across various devices. As a result, top investment priorities include email and paid search. 

According to the Shop.org/Forrester Research study, “The State of Retailing Online 2013: Marketing & Merchandising,” nearly 9 in 10 (87%) online retailers surveyed either already have implemented or are planning to implement mobile email optimization in 2013, and 7 in 10 will optimize paid search for smartphones and tablets (71% and 73%, respectively).  

“As consumer adoption of smartphones and tablets in the United States reaches critical mass, retailers know that their marketing mix has to work optimally for all customer touchpoints now,” said Shop.org executive director Vicki Cantrell. “Email has always been one of most effective customer retention vehicles in the market, so it’s no surprise to see retailers investing to make email engaging and relevant for the increasingly mobile consumer.”

According to the study, retailers say that, on average, 28% of emails sent to customers are first opened on a smartphone; the stakes are higher for small retailers who say that on average 42% of their emails are first opened on a smartphone. 

Across all digital platforms, email and search are where four out of five retailers (80%) are most likely to invest more this year than last, signaling retailers’ understanding that they need to balance investments and resources in both retention and acquisition. Many retailers are adjusting their staffing accordingly, bolstering marketing budget allocations for search and email with investments in skill sets and staff. Of the retailers surveyed, 40% of them plan to hire for open positions in marketing analytics in 2013, reflecting the need to wrestle down volumes of marketing data to create more effective interactions and an improved customer experience. 

For merchandisers, improving the customer shopping experience is key. And for online retailers, those enhancements come in the form of video and personalized content. According to the study, product detail page improvements, particularly video offerings, will be a top focus this year: nearly three-quarters (72%) will invest in integrating video on their sites. Another 62% indicates that recommendations and personalization features will be a priority, including integrating capabilities to create different home pages and creating unique pages for their customers based on purchase history.  

“Retailers continue to optimize the customer experience on their site and to that end have made investments in A/B testing, product detail page enhancements, and personalization mainstream,” said Forrester Research VP and principal analyst Sucharita Mulpuru. “Going forward, however, we expect to see much more emphasis on checkout enhancements, as that is a key obstacle for direct transactions on mobile devices.”  

The State of Retailing Online research series, which provides e-business and channel strategy professionals with annual industry benchmarks of marketing and business investment and activities, surveyed 65 companies. Industries surveyed included apparel, footwear, general merchandise, home furnishings and personal care.

Forrester Research is a global research and advisory firm serving professionals in 13 key roles across three distinct client segments. Forrester provides its clients with proprietary research, consumer and business data, custom consulting, events and online communities and peer-to-peer executive programs. 

Shop.org is the digital arm of the National Retail Federation and the world's leading community for digital retail, offering thought leadership through original research and gold standard events. The community is made up of exclusive networking groups and committees that lead the global conversation surrounding innovative e-commerce trends and digital retail. Shop.org members include some of the world’s largest retail, technology, research and consulting companies.

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