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Retailers Investing In Online And Mobile To Better Engage Customers: Report


Retailers in 2012
will focus on a number of customercentric
functions including IT and
e-commerce investments, enhancing
customer service initiatives, and
building on their mobile platforms, a
new study shows.

The efforts are designed to build
customer engagement, capture wallet
share and accelerate sales growth,
according to the report by the NRF
Foundation and KPMG.

The study, “Retail Horizons:
Benchmarks for 2011, Forecasts for
2012,” is based on a survey of 247
retail executives representing 135
North American companies ranging
from department and specialty stores
to supermarkets, restaurants and online

“Retailers are poised to enter 2012
with a renewed focus on building up
and building out many of their most
important operations, hoping to establish
a new sense of brand loyalty
with all of their customers,” said Matthew
Shay, president/CEO of the
National Retail Federation (NRF), an
industry trade group. “Though customers
are always a company’s top
priority, customer satisfaction will
get a huge facelift this year. From increasing
their brand visibility through
cross-channel initiatives to providing
unique, personalized shopping experiences
through every channel, retailers
have indicated 2012 is all about
the customer.”

According to the survey, nearly 67
percent of companies rank customer
satisfaction as the top strategic initiative
for 2012 and, similarly, 82 percent
said customer service strategies
will be their top priority in the coming
year, up from 75 percent last year.

For the first time in the survey’s
10-year history, retailers’ websites
or online channels eclipsed physical
stores as the top channel for marketers
(81 percent for brick-and-mortar
vs. 86 percent online). As such, retail
executives said they will invest in
programs that directly resonate with
today’s shopper. According to the
survey, 85 percent will emphasize
increasing online sales, up from 83
percent in 2011, and 38 percent will
have a greater focus on increasing mcommerce
sales over the next year,
up from 29 percent in 2011.

Additionally, more than half (53
percent) of those surveyed said they
will specifically focus on web personalization
engines in the coming
months, which includes such enhancements
as location-based services
and tracking methods unique
to shopping habits.

To better serve mobile-savvy shoppers
in their stores, retailers also said
enhancing handheld technologies,
such as mobile point-of-sale (POS),
will be a core focus over the next 18
months. While 17 percent already
use mobile POS technologies in their
store, an additional 33 percent indicate
they plan further POS investments
during that timeframe.