More than half of retail sales are influenced by digital
Last year, just over half of retail sales in the categories studied by Forrester Research — online sales plus digital-influenced offline sales — were impacted by a digital interaction, according to a study emailed to Retail Dive.
After years of surging, mobile commerce growth is easing up, and is now no greater than e-commerce growth, according to the report. Last year, 65% of U.S. online adults accessed the internet from a mobile phone daily, versus 71% the year before, Forrester found. Just 28% said they made purchases on mobile at least monthly in 2017, down from 35% who said they did so in 2016.
Only a little over a third (36%) of retailers Forrester surveyed had buy online, pickup in store in place by 2016, and just 7% implemented it last year, according to the report. Yet, according to another Forrester report emailed to Retail Dive, multi-touchpoint consumers are very valuable, and, by 2021, digital touchpoints will influence 41% of U.S. and 38% of E.U. offline retail sales.
The mixed picture painted by Forrester comes from a natural peaking in growth in digital interactions, especially on mobile considering there are only so many phones to be had. But the wall that retail is apparently hitting also comes from the fact that many retailers have yet to embrace omnichannel services. Specifically, the massive grocery market remains by and large offline.
"It’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy surrounding online grocery stores like Amazon Fresh or Brandless, but be realistic: Over 97% of sales in this category continue to occur offline," according to Sucharita Kodali, Forrester principal analyst of e-business and channel strategy. "Instead, grocers need to focus on superior assortments in their stores and implement click-and-collect capabilities, with particular emphasis on transparency around out-of-stock items and the exact times orders will be ready for pickup."
Customers need opportunities in both the digital and physical realms, both Forrester research teams said in their reports. That has led not just to omnichannel services and the revamping of mobile apps and websites on the part of legacy retailers, but it also seems to have made brick-and-mortar stores an inevitability for pure-play e-commerce retailers.
In addition to customer-facing services, though, retailers must improve how they collect and analyze the information that they're already collecting. "Most organizations collect customer data from various sources, but only a few effectively translate this data into actionable business insights," wrote the team led by Forrester e-business and channel strategy analyst Michelle Beeson. "In fact, 63% of global data and analytics decision makers are implementing or upgrading initiatives to improve the complete view of the customer across channels."
Retailers must work to drive traffic to stores even if transactions eventually happen online, according to Kodali's team. "It’s not a bad thing that so many sales remain digitally uninfluenced," according to Kodali's team. "Retailers should be careful to not pursue digital strategies just for the sake of it because shoppers may not always care about digital tactics or touchpoints."
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