US retailers are sold on digital but they are stuck on what to do next

US Research commissioned by RetailMeNot has found that three quarters of US retailers believe that digital delivers a better ROI than traditional marketing. Not surprisingly, then, over 80 per cent expect to increase their digital marketing budgets over the next three to five years. But there’s a catch: while retailers are sold on the efficacy of digital marketing, they are still struggling about how best to proceed.

The authors of a report entitled “Are Retailers Shifting Fast Enough from Old School Media to New Digital Marketing Opportunities?” conclude that the future of traditional marketing appears to be in decline, but that retailers remain anxious about the path ahead.

According to the report, “Sixty per cent of retailers who are currently investing in direct mail, print promotions and/or print advertising plan to de-emphasise one or more of these channels in the next 12 months. Interestingly, in the shift to digital, retail marketers see opportunities outside their own channels, including deal and promotion web sites and third-party apps.

The report found that two thirds of retail executives believe that branded mobile platforms like apps are effective at driving in-store sales, but they are not yet convinced that their own efforts are paying dividends — only 19 per cent of respondents strongly believe they are advanced in native mobile applications. “This is likely why, in our survey, less than a quarter (24 per cent) of retail marketing decision-makers said that they were developing mobile apps on their own. A vast majority said that they rely (at least partially if not completely) on partners to develop mobile apps or devise and implement their mobile strategies.

Among the other findings:

  • Just over a quarter of marketing management decision-makers (27 per cent) say they are extremely advanced in digital marketing compared to companies within the entire retail industry;
  • Only 26 per cent said they strongly feel that they are advanced in their specific retail category as digital marketers;
  • Less than one in five (19 per cent) believe their current omni-channel strategy is extremely effective;
  • 42 per cent feel they could be taking greater advantage of digital marketing channels and capabilities;

The siloed structures of many retail organisations are impeding efforts to capitalise on mobile marketing opportunities. In fact, retailers don’t seem to agree on where mobile marketers even belong,” say the authors.

Some description

The study found that less than half of those surveyed view mobile marketing as an integrated component of digital marketing, a quarter put it under e-commerce, and a little over one in ten devolved responsibility out to their stores.

Less than 20 percent ran it as an independent department.

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