As shoppers become increasingly connected, online retailers in 2013 will get back to basics, focusing on strategies and tactics to improve the customer experience and increase Web conversion and loyalty across all devices.
According to the 2013 Shop.org/Forrester Research State Of Retailing Online survey, more than half (51%) of retailers surveyed say their top priority for 2013 is site optimisation, including checkout optimisation, alternative payments, user experience, testing and product detail page enhancements.
“Retailers have responded to rapidly evolving customer use of mobile devices, dedicating much of the past 12 to 18 months to developing and testing rich mobile offerings for both customers and store associates,” says Shop.org executive director, Vicki Cantrell.
“While direct mobile commerce is still small, mobile services are now an established and significant part of the shopping experience. Retailers this year are smartly investing to create a holistic customer experience across stores, desktop and mobile, to improve conversion rates, grow crucial repeat customer business, and even capture their share of customer demand from international markets.”
Additionally, 43% of retailers surveyed note that mobile and tablets are among their top three priorities for 2013. These companies plan to invest in new or improved mobile apps and mobile-optimised sites, analytics and traffic and conversion growth.
Among other customer experience investments this year, more than one-quarter (27%) of retailers surveyed plan to prioritise site redesign, including overhauling “look and feel” and implementing responsive design changes.
Overall, online retail remains healthy: more than half (58%) of those surveyed say their conversion rates in 2012 grew over 2011, and many companies say their cart abandonment rate was either stable or even down compared to 2011.
And while respondents are split regarding mobile’s impact on conversion rates, the study shows a net positive impact: 36% of retailers surveyed say that mobile sales and traffic have helped their company’s overall Web conversion rate, while¬†29% have felt a negative impact.
“Despite continued growth in mobile commerce, it will be important for retailers in 2013 to pause and understand the opportunities, distractions, and implications of mobile within the e-commerce landscape,” says Forrester Research VP and principal analyst, Sucharita Mulpuru.
“But it’s promising to see that even though there is market pressure to invest in everything from mobile and free shipping to international growth, retailers have improved key metrics while keeping customer service and fulfilment costs in check.”
With fewer new shoppers to attract these days, online retailers have fewer opportunities for new customer acquisitions, so they are more focused on retaining and driving value for existing shoppers.
According to the survey, more than half (53%) say they have been able to increase the average order value for repeat customers over the past year, and another half (52%) of those surveyed have seen an increase in their repeat customer rate.
The 2013 Shop.org/Forrester Research State of Retailing Online survey was released today at Retail’s BIG Show in New York City.