E-Commerce Update: Social Matures, Mobile Mismatched

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While the 100 largest retailers have made plenty of inroads in e-commerce, including an increasingly mature and strategic use of social marketing, there are lots of missing links too, according to Deloitte’s latest analysis. 

To rank the stores, Deloitte evaluates some 130 e-commerce features and functions, according to a defined maturity scale. Many of these functions, of course, are by now retailers’ bread and butter. Without robust product search capabilities, reliable site performance and a social presence, the report notes, stores are not likely to achieve critical mass. 

But there are still big gaps in mobile. The report finds a clear split between those with advanced capabilities, especially general merchandise, specialty apparel, hardware and jewelry/beauty sectors, and mainstream apparel companies, which have plenty of room for improvement. 

Another weak spot is personalization: “Many top e-commerce retailers still struggle to deliver a personalized experience,” the report says, with 73 of the top 100 offering only limited personalization, such as using a customer’s name on a welcome screen. Only a handful of companies, it notes, use such information as ZIP codes, past purchase history, and shopping preferences to increase customer engagement. Yet some do this very well, it says, such as an office supply retailer using past purchase history to recommend products such as ink or paper. 

With more than 70% of consumers now engaging in cross-channel shopping, it also reports that more stores are finding ways to increase sales as a result. For instance, one of the stores in its report says it has increased its sales up to 20% by enabling customers to order products online when they are not currently available in a store. 

And while smartphone penetration is at 40% among consumers, many stores are encouraging channel crossing by arming sales associates with smartphones or tablets, to aid smartphone-less shoppers in their searches: More than half of the stores in its sample either already do so, or plan to in the near future.  And four out of 10 stores are using or experimenting with mobile point-of-sale devices, speeding up checkout and customer satisfaction.

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