The biggest return on mobile strategies by retailers is increased customer loyalty and personalization, and not mobile transactions, according to a survey of more than 100 retailers conducted by EPiServer at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition (IRCE 2013).
The study shows that 46 percent of retailers who already have a mobile strategy and 74 percent of retailers who are planning to implement a mobile strategy in the next year use mobile primarily to increase customer loyalty and/or provide a more personalized experience for consumers.
"We call it the 'Amazon effect,'" Bob Egner, vice president of product management at EPiServer, said in a statement. "As e-commerce powerhouses like Amazon and eBay make it increasingly difficult to compete on price, retailers are using mobile as a way to differentiate themselves through convenience and brand loyalty."
"We see that retailers are still not completely sold on the ROI of a mobile strategy that focuses on mobile transactions," Egner stated. "Furthermore, retailers are realizing a higher return and an increase in repeat business when they provide their customers with a positive experience that fosters loyalty and convenience, rather than when they build out a complex transaction model."
Despite not being sold on a mobile strategy, mobile sales increased modestly over the past year. Twenty-two percent of survey respondents said that mobile transactions accounted for more than 20 percent of their sales, up from 16 percent in 2012. The finding suggests that mobile transactions aren't the primary driver of return on investment (ROI) in mobile strategies, unless you're Amazon or eBay, according to EPiServer.
However, 56 percent of respondents report that 20 percent or more of their sales are transacted via their Websites. The survey also reveals that 18 percent of retailers said 20 percent or more of their sales are derived from their social networks.
Surprisingly, 60 percent of pure-play Web merchants with a mobile strategy in place said mobile transactions account for less than 20 percent of their sales, with the remaining 40 percent reporting that mobile transactions accounted for 20 percent to 40 percent of sales. Only 8 percent of respondents said they use their mobile strategy for sales, compared with the 46 percent that use it for customer loyalty and personalization.
The survey also reveals that in the next three to five years, 60 percent of respondents plan to make the greatest investment in their Websites, up 1 percent from 2012. Retailers also will continue to invest in mobile strategies, with 35 percent reporting that their greatest investment will be in mobile, up 11 percent from 2012. Only 5 percent said their social strategy will be their greatest investment, down 17 percent from 2012.