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Retailers and consumers out of step on social and mobile

By Retail Technology | Monday September 2 2013

New study warns of overestimating the impact of social and m-commerce the evolution of consumer buying habits

A new comparative study suggests that retailers are overestimating the growth of consumer spending via mobile devices by over 100%.

The study, commissioned by European e-commerce personalisation provider Peerius, found that 75% of leading retailers expect consumers using mobile devices to account for 40% of sales and above in two years time, while 50% expect the mobile channel to account for 50% or more of total online sales. 

Consumers online, however, disagree, with just 13% predicting that 40% or more of their online spending (excluding grocery shopping) will be via smartphones (and 23% for tablet devices) in two years time. Only 9% expected to use smartphones for at least half of their online purchases (and 17% for tablets).

Retail reality check on mobile

The provider said its findings represent a reality check for retailers, who unanimously see the development of effective m-commerce capabilities as 'necessary to keep up' rather than innovation. By contrast, just 7% of consumer respondents selected 'websites that are hard to use on a mobile phone' as an online shopping pet hate.

Roger Doddy, director at Peerius admitted that, given the huge growth in smartphone and tablet sales, it would be wrong to suggest the mobile channel is not important. "However, it is clear from these findings that retailers do not need to rush out mobile and tablet offerings," he said. 

"The focus instead, should be on delivering sophisticated m-commerce experiences that engage the early minority of consumers who are ready for mobile commerce." He added that embedding innovative capabilities like personalisation are proven to drive up mobile engagement and that those retailers getting it right were likely to garner a sustained advantage when the more reticent majority of consumers catch up with early m-commerce adopters.

Social is 'instore' not online

The study also found a consumer disinterest in social commerce, with respondents almost three times as likely to value the 'social' aspect of instore shopping, compared with online social interactions. On average, half of consumers surveyed valued instore, in person social interaction while shopping. But only 18% valued the social aspect of shopping while online. In addition, although women said they were 56% more likely than men to consider the social aspect of as important to them when shopping, there was not as big a gender divide when it came to online shopping and social.

Doddy added: "It is clear that social channels like Twitter and Facebook are a long way from replicating online the social aspects of shopping instore. But he said that the small group of consumers who do value online social shopping experiences were likely to be disproportionately influential. 

"The key for retailers is to work out how to engage that minority group, with tailored experiences and social capabilities that convert them into online evangelists for the brand. Right now, it appears that is where the commercial opportunities in social lie, and not necessarily in directly driving sales," he concluded.

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