Mobile commerce, social media yet to prove retail worth says survey generate just 2.8% of their overall online site traffic from mobile browsers, with 2% of online sales generated via the devices, according to an annual state of online retailing study from National Retail Federation’s digital arm,

Among 84 retailers surveyed that have a mobile presence, almost two-thirds said they don’t have a mobile strategy or are still in the very early stages of developing one, the study showed.

However, they have high hopes for the budding channel with over 75% measuring the success of their mobile initiatives in terms of revenue directly generated via the mobile phones, while 60% cited driving sales to their websites as the major goal for their mobile presence.

Despite their still relatively small size, mobile sales could eventually grow to 10% of online retail, Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at Forrester Research who conducted the survey, said in an interview.

She added that it took e-commerce itself a good 10 years before it helped to “transform” the retail landscape.

“Online retail sales have outpaced those from physical stores and have grown to about 7-8% of the overall industry, even as its growth rate has slowed to an 11% gain last year from a peak of more than 20% a few years earlier,” she said.

In comparison, industry-wide sales last year fell 2.7% to $2.3trn, according to NRF.

“There’s the same caution to be exercised,” she said, comparing mobile commerce to the early days of the online retailing. “Being the first mover isn’t going to guarantee success necessarily.”

Outside of mobile strategy, most companies also have yet to prove their social media efforts, through such areas as blogs, or, generate positive returns on investments, the survey results indicated.

Almost 60% of retailers said their returns on social marketing strategies are unclear, with about 80% of them saying they are pursuing social marketing as an experiment and learning tool.

Only 7% of retailers cited a social networking presence as one of their top three most effective tools for gaining customers last year, compared with 90% citing marketing through search engines such as

“This dispelled a lot of myth about social media,” said Mulpuru. “Everybody thinks social media is the next big thing. It’s unclear that any retailer has found any great success from it.”

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