More than half of retailers say mobile initiatives are among their top three priorities in 2017, following a year in which sales through smartphones accounted for about 30% of online sales and 47% of online traffic on average, according to a new report from the National Retail Federation’s Shop.org division and research firm Forrester.
About 46% of retailers surveyed said marketing is a top priority for 2017; 42% cited site merchandising, and 22% pointed to omnichannel efforts.
Forrester also notes that in 2016 direct online sales totaled 11.6% of total U.S. retail sales of $394 billion, with digital touchpoints impacting an estimated 49% of all retail sales nationwide.
So, mobile remains a top priority for retailers. We already saw reports late last year that Black Friday was a big mobile shopping day, and we've seen other stats about the growth of mobile shopping, so the NRF report numbers pretty much reinforce what we already thought was happening.
Yet while mobile devices are being used during the shopping journey, retailers have not had as much luck getting consumers to download and use their own apps. Even for those that have rolled out their own mobile apps and have had some success with them comes the awareness that the challenge of converting sales on mobile has only just begun.
For example, Starbucks has had a mobile app for several years and drive usage of it by embracing mobile payment early on, but the coffee giant continues to add new features and experiment with new capabilities to make the app a tool for more personalized customer experiences and an enabler of conversational commerce.
If mobile apps are to eventually become the dominant e-commerce shopping interfaces, retailers need to keep improving functionality and give users reason to not only shop, but close sales within those apps. We know that shoppers are using mobile phones as part of the shopping process. Now, retailers need to figure out how to capture and keep those shoppers in the online stores living inside their phones.