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Retailers Prepping For Dominance Of Digital Sales

Modest investments in mobile tech can result in huge returns: NRF

The mobile attention of consumers are top of mind for retailers in 2017.

According to a report released by Forrester and, a division of the National Retail Federation (NRF), direct online sales totaled 11.6 percent of total 2016 U.S. retail sales ($394 billion); however, digital interactions affected an estimated 49 percent of total U.S. retail sales.

As a result, retailers are putting more emphasis behind their mobile efforts. According to the NRF, 54 percent of the surveyed retailers said mobile is one of their top initiatives in 2017, as are marketing (46 percent), site merchandising (42 percent) and omnichannel efforts (22 percent).

The survey was conducted in October 2016 among 74 apparel and accessories, footwear, general merchandise, home furnishings, personal care and sporting goods retailers.

“Smartphones are driving retail sales more than ever, and retailers have found that even modest investments in mobile initiatives can result in huge returns,” said NRF digital retail VP Artemis Berry. “This is no longer a new way to reach customers, but it has certainly become a highly effective method and one that boosts the level of customer engagement across the brand.”

Smartphones made up an average of 30 percent of online sales and 47 percent of online traffic for the surveyed retailers, while sales made on smartphones were up an average of 65 percent year over year.

Interestingly, the study said most retalers are “foregoing flashy emerging technology such as virtual and augmented reality, and instead are investing in customer experience.” Customer service was the No. 1 new initiative retailers said they would invest in this year, including such features as live chat.

“Today’s customers are empowered with information and technology,” Forrester VP and research director Fiona Swerdlow said. “To grow, retailers know they have to operate with a customer-obsessed mindset to deliver the experiences that consumers now expect at every touchpoint. It’s about having all aspects of the business — stores, mobile, merchandising, customer service, fulfillment and more — work together to deliver total value to your customers wherever they are, at any time.”