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49pc of retailers say driving in-store sales is mobile priority

When it comes to the purpose of their mobile strategies, 49 percent of retailers pinpoint driving sales to the store as a priority compared to only 41 percent who said providing a new selling channel is the purpose, according to a new report from RSR Research.

The percentage of retailers interested in using mobile to drive sales to store grew during the past year, with only 33 percent naming this strategy a year ago, while the number of retailers focused on providing a new channel via mobile is up only slightly from 39 percent. Showrooming was a big concern of retailers in last year’s report but, in 2014 retailers indicated they have absorbed the digital implications of consumers’ digitally enabled paths-to-purchase.

“The key takeaway is that retailers are learning that mobile isn’t really another selling channel – it is really the glue the ties the digital world and the physical world together in a compelling way,” said Brian Kilcourse, managing partner at RSR Research, Miami.

“That is a different way of looking at it,” he said. “They kind of viewed it as another way to sell before, but now they are realizing it is not really an extension of their offering but that consumers are extending themselves into the brand with mobile.

“That’s why we found that retailers put a tremendous amount of value on the ability to help consumers select and search for products and that they put a lot of less value on transacting with the devices despite the fact that many can transact with their mobile device. They are realizing that consumers are using it as an information appliance.”

Empowering employees
Another popular purpose of retailers’ mobile strategies is empowering employees to meet consumer service expectations, named by 39 percent of respondents, up from 27 percent.

Additionally, 35 percent of retailers are looking to make their employees more efficient via mobile, up from zero percent last year.

Also experiencing significant growth in the past year is providing rich content and community input to help consumers choose the retailer’s brand, named by 34 percent of retailers in 2014, up from 21 percent last year.

Other key findings include that 30 percent of retailers are focused on mobile to give consumers the ability to compare prices, 30 percent to enable decision makers with better, more timely information and 21 percent to provide a channel for post-sales, self-service support.

Privacy concerns
The report considers how retailers are responding to the new challenges brought about by the growth in mobile as well as what the best opportunities are for taking advantage of mobile. One sentiment that has not changed since the last report is that retailers view the top challenge they face as the fact that consumers are using mobile as part of their shopping trip and retailers need to be there.

However, in the past year, retailers have become far more focused on consumers’ privacy concerns related to mobile, with 28 percent naming this as a top three business challenge compared to 17 percent a year ago.

Last year, retailers said not having enough resources was their biggest internal obstacle in adopting mobile. This year, finding the budget is the biggest internal obstacle.

Purchase influencer
Key findings from the report include that while 47 percent of retailers believe mobile currently influences consumers’ purchases more than half the time, they expect the number to jump to 75 percent in three years.

In terms of the services retailers are currently offering, search and select merchandise is the only consumer capability offered on mobile that a majority of retailers — 58 percent — named as important.

When it comes to messaging, 43 percent of retailers RSR pinpointed as mobile winners are using SMS with new deals or coupons when customers enter the store versus 34 percent of all other retailers.

“One of the things that struck me is that fast-moving consumer goods companies are more interested in being able to get personalized offers to their consumers than they have been given credit for,” Mr. Kilcourse said.

“There is an assumption that the fashion side of retail is further ahead on digital enablement of consumers,” he said. “But in fact, the FMCG guys are focused on it, too, but in the context of being able to put relevant offers in front of the consumers.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York