Study: Social Trumps Mobile for Retailers’ 2014 Holidays Spend

ebay, eBay Enterprise, VendorNet, ecommerce, global ecommerce, retail, online retail, brick-and-mortar, brick-and-mortar retail, mobile commerce, customer service, customer experience, market research, omnichannel, omnichannel retailGoing into the 2014 holiday shopping season, retailers are spending more on tools focused on data capture (social media, email and SEO) than on mobile, according to a July survey conducted by Edelman Berland on behalf of eBay Enterprise.

The study also found retailers were more confident in their infrastructure around things like customer service and fulfillment than on systems tied to mobile commerce.

The survey polled 1,056 retail professionals with ecommerce or online marketing responsibility this past July. Respondents were roughly split three ways between those at companies with $5 million-$10 million in online revenue, $10 million-$50 million and $50 million-$250 million.

Twenty-four percent of respondents said they were confident in their customer service infrastructure and 13% in their fulfillment infrastructure, but only 7% felt good about their mobile readiness, according to the survey. The greatest number of respondents (15%) said mobile was the area they were least confident in, while 68% said they had no plans to invest in mobile ahead of this holiday season.

Out of the top 10 areas of investment for the 2014 holiday season, pricing and customer service were at number one and two in the survey, while mobile ranked in ninth place.

“Mobile is the Achilles heel for retailers,” said Heather Bonura, marketing manager for omnichannel operations at eBay Enterprise. “It’s a pain point they’re not putting their money behind right now.”

Bonura said retailers are focused more on short-term initiatives centered on customer service, pricing and marketing, instead of investing in long-term infrastructure that can help them differentiate themselves. “We see the 2014 holiday season as an opportunity for retailers who can innovate in time, knowing their peers are not doing the same,” she said.

They can also implement tactics now that can significantly impact holiday results. For instance, Bonura said, Facebook ads drove $1.6 million in incremental sales between Thanksgiving and Black Friday 2013 for jewelry and accessories retailer Alex & Ani, part of a joint effort by eBay Enterprise and Kenshoo Social.

Among companies with both a brick-and-mortar and an online presence, nearly 9 out of 10 felt they were prepared to capture customer data, which was true regardless of size.

Data security was a greater concern at larger companies, the survey found. Among those with online sales below $50 million, about half saw it as a concern; the figure rose to 65% for companies with $50-$250 million in online sales. Twenty-one percent of those respondents said their companies had suffered a customer data breach.

One of the main takeaways from the survey, Bonura said, was the fact that retailers are putting a greater focus on data capture and data analysis to drive all kinds of initiatives to improve the customer experience and increase revenue, including omnichannel functions like ship to store and ship from store.

“They’re using data to drive marketing solutions that both get new customers and service existing ones, including using data captured by associates and in-store ordering to both provide better service and increase cross-sell and upsell, while gaining a more holistic view of the customer,” Bonura said. “And on the back end, once the order is placed, whether online or in store, they’re using data to optimize delivery methods and provide more options for consumers.”

In terms of global ecommerce, the survey found that the larger the company, the greater the propensity to invest in international expansion. Thirty-two percent of respondents in the $5 million-$10 million range said they were investing in global expansion for holiday 2014, with the figure increasing to 32% in the $10 million-$50 million range and 45% for the $50 million-$250 million range.

This was also true when it came to how companies viewed Amazon. Roughly half of respondents at companies with less than $50 million in online sales viewed Amazon as a competitor, with the figure increasing to 63% for companies in the $50 million-$250 million range.

Bonura said there are opportunities for retailers to move beyond barriers they faced in the past around mobile and global as there are now more providers with end-to-end solutions that include things like responsive design for mobile and online and omnichannel operations. “This can help them enter new markets and compete against Amazon and succeed,” she said.

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