Report from NRF: Retailers Thinking ‘Site First’ Not ‘Mobile First’

Jan. 14, 2013

Retailers engaged in digital commerce, despite the avalanche of media stories touting the coming of mobile and social commerce, are still reticent to go all in on the technologies—preferring to invest in their Websites instead, according to research presented at the 102 nd Annual NRF Convention and Expo in New York City.

Mobile commerce sales volume, while growing quickly, still represents a “miniscule” share of total e-commerce sales and Forrester Research expects that to grow to no more than 10 percent by 2017, according to Sucharita Mulpuru, vice president and principal analyst at the research firm.

“Retailers, in many ways have been burned in the last few years, getting very caught up in the hype of concepts and theories that could be borne of larger trends,” Mulpuru said during an expo session. “Even though consumers have these devices, the number of transactions on these phones are very small; that’s why you see data like this.”

Mulpuru said retailers have responded to these statistics by retrenching and concentrating on their core e-commerce site, rather than leap headfirst into mobile.

“The number one thing that came up in every response from retailers was they were thinking about optimizing things like their checkout, integrating alternative payments or just improving the core user experience—things retailers have been talking about for the last five or six years,” she noted. “That trumped the number of retailers who said they were focusing on mobile and tablet.”

The outlook on using social media to drive sales also is mixed, Mulpuru reported. Forrester found that the impact of social media as a driver of consumers completing transactions is still very small. Consumers continue to find out about offers or deals through organic surfing–they visited the sites directly–or via email.

“Traditional interactive marketing tactics are the fuel completing these transactions,” she said. “Any way I look at this data, any other resource I have, essentially reveals the same thing.”