Nearly two-thirds of apparel, accessories and footwear retailers either don’t have a mobile-commerce strategy in place or are just getting started on one, according to a study on “The State of Online Retailing” released today by Forrester Research Inc. and Shop.org, the National Retail Federation’s digital division.

This story first appeared in the June 29, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Fifteen percent of the 26 apparel, accessories and footwear retailers included in the study said they had no mobile strategy, and another 50 percent said their strategy was at an early stage or just being developed. Nineteen percent said they had a strategy in place and were implementing or refining it, 12 percent said they had a strategy and were starting work on implementing it and 4 percent simply said they had a strategy.

Among the 84 online retailers overall, 20 percent said they were implementing or refining an existing strategy, 10 percent said they were starting work on implementation and 8 percent said they had a strategy, versus 36 percent that were in the early stages of developing a strategy and 26 percent that didn’t have a strategy at the present time.

Reflective of their larger size and sense of urgency about mobile commerce, general merchandisers were the furthest along of the five retail “verticals” studied, with 36 percent boasting of having already implemented a strategy and working on refining it. Along similar lines, general merchandisers have earmarked $490,000 for mobile investment this year versus an average of $65,000 for apparel, accessories and footwear retailers. Beauty and personal care retailers plan to invest $203,000 in mobile this year, on average, while sporting goods retailers have budgeted $127,000. Only home retailers, at $25,000, plan to invest less in mobile than the apparel-related specialty merchants. The average for all retailers in the study was $170,000.

Overall, the study said, mobile is responsible for 2.8 percent of online retailers’ site traffic and 2 percent of their Web revenue. Drilling down to the apparel, accessories and footwear retailers with a mobile presence, 1.9 percent of traffic and 1.8 percent of revenues come via mobile browsers. Among beauty retailers, the figure for both traffic and revenues was 1.8 percent.

The study noted tremendous interest in social-networking activity, but little to suggest that it had become a profitable activity for Web merchants. Fifty-nine percent of all retailers, and 52 percent of the apparel retailers, either strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement “The returns on social marketing strategies are unclear,” while 28 percent responded similarly to the statement that these strategies “have helped to grow our business to date,” 2 percent more than the affirmative response among the apparel retailers.

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