Amid a seismic shift in how U.S. consumers shop, retailers are vying for time on their customers’ screens across all their devices — before, during and after a purchase. That is according to The State of Retailing Online 2017: Key Metrics, Business Objectives and Mobile report, released by the National Retail Federation’s Shop.org division and Forrester.
Forrester forecasted that, in 2016, direct online sales totaled 11.6% of total U.S. retail sales ($394 billion), but digital touchpoints actually impacted an estimated 49% of total U.S. retail sales.
In response, this year, retailers are focusing on several key areas to enhance customer experiences across all touchpoints, growing their business for the long term. For example, 54% of retailers note that mobile is one of their top initiatives in 2017, as are marketing (46%), site merchandising (42%) and omnichannel efforts (22%).
“Smartphones are driving retail sales more than ever, and retailers have found that even modest investments in mobile initiatives can result in huge returns,” NRF vice-president for digital retail, Artemis Berry, said. “This is no longer a new way to reach customers, but it has certainly become a highly effective method and one that boosts the level of customer engagement across the brand.”
Among retailers surveyed, smartphones, on average, made up 30% of online sales and 47% of online traffic, and sales made on smartphones were up an average of 65% year-over-year. The study found that most retailers are foregoing flashy emerging technology such as virtual and augmented reality, and instead are investing in customer experience. 45% of retailers surveyed said mobile initiatives transformed their overall digital customer experience, and customer service topped the list of new initiatives retailers will invest in over the next year, with features like live chat offering them an opportunity to connect with their customers.
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