Speciality retailers fail digital test

11 September 2012

NEW YORK: Few speciality retailers are successfully taking full advantage of digital media, with the notable exceptions of Macy's and Nordstrom, a study has argued.

L2, the think tank, allied with SapientNitro, the agency, and STELLAService, the insights provider, to assess the credentials of 76 leading operators in this sector.

Macy's, the department store chain, posted 146 points, covering its website, digital marketing, social media presence and activity on mobile devices. Nordstrom, the luxury retailer, came next on 145 points.

These were the only two players to achieve "genius" status in the rankings, indicating they had leveraged these channels in a manner that delivered genuine differentiation in their markets.

Another 16 companies were classed as "gifted", and thus on the way to attaining such a position. This group was led by Victoria's Secret, the lingerie specialist, on 136 points, and American Eagle, the clothing chain, on 130 points.

The lowest-scoring enterprises included Diesel, the fashion label, on 84 points, as well as Zara and Uniqlo, the fast fashion experts, on 76 points and 73 points respectively.

L2 also discovered, for the first time, that there was a "significant relationship" between the size of a retailer's business and its digital prowess, a correlation which hardened when looking at online sales.

Scott Galloway, L2's founder , argued two trends were particularly making an impact. "Mcommerce is the fastest growing channel in the history of commerce," he said. "In addition, Amazon has turned its sights on specialty retailers, offering high-end brands and an experience that closes the gap with bricks and mortar."

A range of new social platforms are also beginning to occupy a key role in the marketing strategies of these operators, 86% of which are already using Pinterest, the content-sharing site.

This figure stood at 73% for Google+, the social network, bettering 71% for Instagram, the photo-sharing platform, and 42% for Tumblr.

More broadly, a 65% majority of brands websites now had buttons enabling visitors to "like" listed products on Facebook, the social network, while 56% contained users reviews and only 26% offered "live chat" tools.

Some 78% of firms had built mobile websites, almost all of which allowed visitors to make purchases. A further 51% boasted apps for Apple's iPhone, as did 29% for the iPad tablet. Totals fell to 21% for gadgets powered by Google's Android operating system.

Data sourced from L2; additional content by Warc staff