While consumers are still making relatively few purchases with their mobile devices, a new report from Forrester predicts that mobile technology will play an increasingly major role. Mobile will also become more of a dominant force in purchase research as well as transactions, writes analyst Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali.
Both online and offline retailers need to manage content and merchandise across all sites and devices, providing information that is relevant in different contexts. “Retailers with brick-and-mortar stores need to incorporate store inventory data or store maps into mobile apps for shoppers browsing in those stores, for instance,” she writes. Smartphone and tablet sales now account for roughly 20% of e-commerce, and a survey that Forrester conducted with Shop.org, the online arm of the National Retail Federation, found that online retailers have named improving their mobile efforts as their top priority for the year ahead. Her advice, since different types of merchandise and consumers mandate different strategies: Beyond store support and mobile coupons, “try as many new things with mobile as your budget allows.”
Other trends that she predicts will have the maximum impact on the United States’ $262 billion in e-commerce:
Shipping costs will jump. With the problems at the U.S. Postal Service worsening, it's likely the cost of delivery of online purchases will go up. Combined with last holiday's seasons shipping letdowns, when many consumers did not receive orders in time for the holidays, “retailers that succeed in finding creative ways to deliver products, such as shipping to stores or expanding their in-store pickup programs, will thrive the most.”
Dynamic pricing will spark more price wars. Thanks to such tactics as showrooming and webrooming, canny consumers are aware that e-tailers like Amazon change prices often, sometimes many times per day. “Retailers need to be better able to respond to competitive pricing,” she writes, by engaging in new strategies. “Ultimately, retailers need to consider other long-term alternatives to combat lower prices on commoditized items -- such as offering unique merchandise or new merchandising concepts like ‘stores within stores,’ which is what Samsung is now doing with Best Buy.”
Growth beyond the U.S. will become more important.
Its survey found this year that 14% of e-tailers are focusing on international expansion as a key priority. (Last year, it was 27%.) Forrester expects that by 2017, Chinese shoppers
will spend nearly twice as much online as American shoppers.
"Mobile Shopping" photo from Shutterstock.