A survey of chief marketing officers at leading U.S. retailers found that stores remain divided on mobile marketing's potential and its ability to convert sales.
Overall, BDO's survey of 100 retail CMOs found that 38 percent are including mobile in their marketing strategy this holiday season, down from 50 percent in 2012.
At the same time, however, those who are embracing mobile marketing are ramping up their efforts. Last year, mobile comprised an average of 5.9 percent of retailers' overall marketing budget; this year, that number has jumped to 15 percent.
There is apparently less hesitation around social media, with 88 percent of retailers leveraging social media this season, comprising 14 percent of their marketing budgets, on average, up from 10 percent in 2012.
The reluctance around mobile marketing by many stores comes despite eMarketer's prediction calling for a 15 percent rise in mobile shopping volume this year. A lack of clear ROI was seen as one reason for the hold-up.
"I think retailers are indecisive," Natalie Kotlyar, a partner in BDO's retail and consumer products practice, told MediaPost. "There are an overwhelming number of mobile possibilities, and to a certain extent, the economy is uncertain. So it makes sense to me that they are thinking they will sit on the sidelines for now, and wait to see what works for others."
While m-commerce is growing, smartphones are still being used much more for research rather than actual purchasing. She added, "So retailers are stuck on that question: Is mobile creating brand recognition? Or is it creating demand and building sales?"
Finally, she said that while mobile marketing appears integral to any multichannel approach, "Omnichannel is easy to talk about, but very difficult to do," particularly with Big Data's challenges.
Traditional ads lead the way, with 41 percent of retailers investing most of their holiday advertising budgets on traditional print ads, followed by 29 percent planning to spend the majority of their holiday budget on broadcast.
Do you agree or disagree that retailers are missing an opportunity to build sales with a go-slow approach to mobile marketing?