Latest data: Retailers shift to social media and online


I am at a media briefiing by cloud-based ERP provider NetSuite at the very nice Quay restaurant in Sydney.

In addition to the interesting presentation by CEO Zach Nelson on the state of NetSuite, we have been given no less than 7 press releases, so a big news day for the company. One of these was the key findings from Frost & Sullivan of Australian retailers, conducted in October 2011. This includes a survey of the use of social media by retailers, showing:
– 34% monitor conversations on social media
– 29% use social media to promote their store
– 20% advertise on Facebook
– 17% use social media to publicize special offers or discounts
– 16% provide services to customers on social media

Other interesting data from the study includes:
– 33% have mobile/ tablet apps or mobile websites
– 60% have a website, with 36% having online ordering
– 13% get more than 10% of sales from online
– 24% offer ability to shop online and pick up in store
– 21% offer ability to return online purchases in store
– 53% believe online sales will increase in 2012, though the majority believe it will be by less than 10%. 3% believe online sales will decrease in 2012.

This last statistic suggests that 47% of respondents are in denial or don’t have a clue about much at all. It’s probably fair to say that something in the order of half the retail industry is trying to significantly change how they operate, and half continues to do what they have been doing and hope challenges such as online retailing will go away. This latter half of the industry probably won’t survive too much longer.

The social media data above does show that an increasing proportion of retailers are engaged in entirely new approaches to promotion and engaging with their customers. However there is still a long way to go. The reality is that a very large proportion of retail sales will have a social media component. Those retailers that don’t work out how to get involved are unlikely to prosper.