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45% US Retailers Say Mobile Optimization is Crucial to E-Commerce

Mobile commerce is growing so quickly in Asia Pacific that as a recent MasterCard study discovered, nearly half of the region’s smartphone users have bought something using their device.

Compare that to the United States, where mobile purchases accounted for only 1 percent of the $3.25 trillion retail spending market in 2014, according to research by analytics firm Flurry, and it’s clear there’s a ways to go.

At the same time, nearly two-thirds of American adults now own a smartphone—and a survey conducted by Boston Retail Partners (BRP) has found that U.S. retailers are ready to embrace the potential to generate additional sales through a touchscreen.

For its 2015 E-Commerce Survey, BRP contacted more than 500 top North American retailers (spanning specialty stores to general merchandise) to gain insight into their planned initiatives, priorities and future trends, and found that mobile optimization was a high priority for 45 percent of them.

“Retailers realize that mobile devices are ubiquitous and recognize that a mobile device in the customer’s hands holds tremendous opportunities to enhance the customer experience across channels,” the report said, noting mobile websites are massively preferred over apps (12 percent). “While the main goal of mobile technology from a retailer standpoint may still be to drive in-store sales, it is also the conduit that bridges the convergence of the digital and in-store experience.”

A seamless shopping experience is a must in mobile

Convenience, as ever, is crucial: a whopping 63 percent of retailers said they plan to accept Apple Pay within two years, while 43 percent indicated that a consistent brand experience across all channels (in stores, online or on the go) is essential.

To that end, 78 percent of respondents said they will have a unified commerce platform in place by 2020.

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“Retailers realize that that they can no longer operate from within silos and the convergence of digital and physical commerce is now a retail imperative,” Brian Brunk, BRP principal, said in a statement. “Unified commerce transcends channels and enables store associates to personalize the experience to a customer based on her digital footprint.”

While brick-and-mortar sales still beat e-commerce as a percentage of overall revenue, 85 percent of retailers surveyed expect to see the latter’s share increase in 2016. Based on estimates recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau, that outlook is feasible: second-quarter e-commerce sales increased 14.1 percent, compared to just 1 percent of growth in total sales in the same period.

“E-commerce success will be found in striking the right balance of the digital and physical experiences to satisfy and delight the customer,” the report concluded. “Retailers are working on this, blending personalization capabilities from the digital or online world with physical benefits—being able to touch and feel and have immediate gratification—that are inherent to the in-store shopping experience.”