Survey: Retailers plan to spend more on e-commerce this year

DURHAM, N.C. — More than two-fifths of retailers plan to increase spending on online marketing this year, and nearly half have invested in new mobile apps, according to a new survey.

The survey, titled "Loading the Sleigh: Marketers' Plans & Expectations for the Holiday Season," conducted by Retail Systems Research on behalf of Bronto Software over the summer, included 179 respondents, mostly with annual sales of between $51 million and $999 million. Bronto makes software for retailers and other commerce-focused companies.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they expect sales to increase from last year, with more than a quarter saying sales will increase by more than 50%. At the same time, 21% said they would "significantly" increase online marketing budgets compared with 2011, while 22% plan to slightly increase them.

"Retailers clearly recognize the need to market online during the holidays, when they are under the most pressure to capture consumer wallet share," Bronto CEO Joe Colopy said. "This study shows that these marketers have made important investments over the year, so they are poised to accomplish their goals. And while mail is a more established channel and has inherent technologic advantages for communicating with consumers, marketers are getting ready to use mobile and social to break out of the pack."

Retailers have made several investments in e-commerce marketing. Forty-nine percent have invested in mobile applications, while 46% have invested in new e-commerce platforms. Fifty percent have found new email service providers, while 43% have invested in mobile website optimization.

But as Colopy suggested, most are budgeting for email marketing, with 87% saying they would spend on that this year and more than half saying they expect the overall volume of emails they send to increase over 2011.

As many as one-third plan to wait until after Black Friday weekend to begin their first promotions, and all are planning to offer free shipping offers.