Forrester survey: 91% of retailers have mobile strategy in place or in development

Washington, D.C. -- More and more retailers are experimenting with mobile and social initiatives. According to “The State Of Retailing Online 2011: Marketing, Social, and Mobile” report conducted by Forrester Research. for Shop.org, 91%  percent of retailers currently have a mobile strategy in place or in development (up from 74% a year ago), and 72% say they will increase their spending on social networks this year over last.

However, the overall amount of mobile traffic and revenue has not increased dramatically, suggesting that investment levels in site optimization may still be inadequate. For example, 48% of retailers report having a mobile-optimized website; 35% have deployed an iPhone app; and 15% offer an Android app and an iPad app, respectively. Challenges for retailers include differentiating the consumer experience on a tablet versus a smartphone and figuring out features and functionality in dueling app/mobile Web ecosystems.

Compared with past years, social networks surfaced higher as an investment area among retailers. Social networks ranked fourth on the list of successful customer acquisition sources, up significantly from last year. Yet the ROI associated with social is muddy: 62% of retailers said the returns on social marketing strategies are unclear, and nearly the same percentage said the primary ROI from social marketing is listening to -- and gaining a better understanding of -- customers.

“The data indicates that significant investments in social and mobile tactics will be in place this year,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, VP principal analyst, Forrester Research. “Retail executives should have modest expectations for the benefits of social commerce.”

With regard to mobile, Mulpuru said retailers should be working to increasingly integrate features and functionality into the physical store experience.

“While consumers may not be extensively exploring product information yet, basic store information, transparent pricing, and easy checkout capabilities are likely to be the most pressing opportunities for most sites in the near term,” she said.