Retailers Backing Away From Mobile

A new survey of retail CMOs shows that stores are backing away from mobile technology, even as m-commerce sales climb. Only 38% say it figures in their marketing strategy this holiday, according to the BDO Compass Survey of CMOs, down from 50%. And while 72% say they are spending the same amount on marketing as they did last year, the mix is changing. Some 88% are saying social is now a part of their seasonal plan, and will account for 14% of the marketing budget, up from 10% last year. Natalie Kotlyar, a partner in BDO's retail and consumer products practice, tells Marketing Daily what's driving the trends.

Q: Mobile has been such a strong and growing trend. Why back away and be wishy-washy now?

A: I think retailers are indecisive. There are an overwhelming number of mobile possibilities, and to a certain extent, the economy is uncertain. So it makes sense to me that they are thinking they will sit on the sidelines for now, and wait to see what works for others.

Q: Do you think stores are uncertain about m-commerce, big picture?

A: No, m-commerce is growing, and I think a year from now more consumers will be using their phones to make purchases. But, for now, they use them to do research, for social sites—but not to pull the trigger on actual purchasing. So retailers are stuck on that question: Is mobile creating brand recognition? Or is it creating demand and building sales?

It’s also worth noting that among retailers who are using mobile, they are spending more.  Last year, mobile comprised about 6% of retailers’ overall marketing budget; this year, it’s 15%. 

Q: But this is a time when most stores are striving very hard to be omnichannel.  How can they be without mobile?

A: Omnichannel is easy to talk about, but very difficult to do. Our survey found that only 14% have an omnichannel strategy in place, with 64% describing it as “in progress.” And they are overwhelmed: 90% of CMOs big data is a big challenge.

Q: Social is growing fast, at least among the 100 CMOs included in your research. How would you rate their efforts, overall?

A: Retailers need to focus on which social platform works best for them. Our survey found that 99% are on Facebook, and 52% tweet, the most popular platforms. But based on the retailer, there are big differences. Brands with instructional content—like cosmetics—do really well with videos, so YouTube and Vine work best. For fashion, especially if it’s aimed at young women, Pinterest is most important.

Q: Do many stores know what works, or are they all still experimenting?

A: The metrics are the most difficult aspect. It is very difficult to figure out when and how this customer is coming to you. And social can be great advertising. But, ultimately, the sale is what’s important, so you want the consumer to buy as quickly as possible. If there are too many clicks, you will lose them.

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1 comment about "Retailers Backing Away From Mobile".
  1. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein , December 6, 2013 at 9:18 a.m.
    No wonder the water doesn't work. The pipes are clogged with wires! -- Jerome Horowitz (Curly Howard)