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Retailers lag consumers by two years

News, 19 October 2015

PETALUMA, CA: Retailers cannot keep pace with the speed at which digital consumers are adopting new technologies, and are probably two years behind them, according to an industry expert.

Ken Burke, founder and CEO of MarketLive, made the observation to MediaPost as he discussed the e-commerce technology platform's 7th Annual Holiday Research Study – based on the shopping experiences of 1,000 US consumers who have shopped online at least four times within the past year, own a smartphone, and typically spend $250 or more online annually.

"Consumers are adopting new technologies that seemed futuristic just a year ago," he said. "There's no question now that consumers are asking for much more than retailers can give, like coupons with local discounts through mobile devices," he added.

The survey found that many were taking advantage of what retailers were able to offer them. Thus 78% of shoppers were likely to visit a store as a result of a text promotion or alert via mobile device.

But when they get there, 69% now want in-store text messages to receive coupons or be alerted of promotions, while 62% indicated they would make a purchase as a result of a notification or offer sent to their mobile device while in the store.

Burke also noted that retailers were struggling to promote their deals in search ads or search marketing. "They can do it through hyperlocal advertising," he said, "but many do not have the knowledge or skills."

Instead, retailers are turning to social media which they found easier to understand. "Buying a search ad to promote a discount in local stores, rather than running a national ad, is a stretch for most retailers," Burke said. "It's easier to just tweet it on Twitter."

And while relatively few are buying via social media, a majority are using it to look for gift ideas and to share information.

In particular, Burke stressed the importance of social media for millennials: "A staggering 47% with Pinterest accounts said they had purchased something online after pinning it," he said. "Millennials should become an advocate of your brand – that is paramount."

Data sourced from MarketLive, MediaPost; additional co9ntent by Warc staff