Most Mobile Efforts Aimed at Branding, Not Sales

Businesses are focusing their mobile strategies on increasing brand loyalty, not increasing the number of sales made via smartphones and tablets, new research shows.

A study by digital marketing firm EPiServer revealed that retailers are seeing the biggest return on their mobile investments in the areas of improved customer loyalty and personalization, rather than mobile transactions.

Specifically, 46 percent of retailers who have a mobile strategy in place and three-quarters of those who are planning to implement a mobile strategy in the coming year are using mobile primarily to increase customer loyalty and provide a more personalized experience for consumers.

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Just 22 percent of the businesses surveyed said that mobile transactions account for more than 20 percent of their sales. While that number is up from 16 percent in a year ago, researchers said it suggests that unless you're Amazon, or eBay, mobile transactions aren't the primary driver of mobile strategies.

Even among pure-play Web merchants with a mobile strategy in place, 60 percent said mobile transactions account for less than one-fifth of their sales, with the remaining 40 percent indicating that mobile commerce made up only between 20 and 40 percent of sales.

Bob Egner, vice president of Product Management at EPiServer, said they call this the "Amazon effect."

"As e-commerce powerhouses like Amazon and eBay make it increasingly difficult to compete on price, retailers are using mobile as a way to differentiate themselves through convenience and brand loyalty," Egner said. "Furthermore, retailers are realizing a higher return and an increase in repeat business when they provide their customers with a positive experience that fosters loyalty and convenience, rather than when they build out a complex transaction model."

Despite the increase in mobile activity, 60 percent of businesses plan to spend the most money over the next five years on their website, while just 35 percent are putting the majority of their resources into new mobile strategies

The study was based on surveys of survey of CEOs, vice presidents, directors and e-commerce managers at more than 100 organizations including retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers, catalogers, Web-only merchants and local retailers.

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