Online and offline continue to merge as 57% of all retailers consider themselves multichannel. According to the annual State of Retail Online study by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Forrester, only 32% of companies surveyed this year consider themselves pure play online retailers.
While 43% of store-based retailers expect to increase the number of locations they operate by the end of 2018, only 16% expect a reduction from 2017. In addition, many retailers are working on their real estate assets such as opening pop-up stores, 24%; or warehouses or distribution centers, 12%.
Physical locations still hold a lot of importance for retailers. For 42% of those surveyed, brick-and-mortars named faster delivery as a top priority and plan to use stores to help achieve this goal. BOPIS is also a priority for 21% of respondents, along with 15% who say that ship-from-store is a fulfillment priority.
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Another top priority outlined in the study was personalization, cited by 15% of retailers. Many retailers are looking toward technology to enable store associates to help customers, 12%, and improve the shopping experience, 12%. In addition, 61% of retailers said they plan to spend more on employee training in 2018.
Still, online will continue to be a contributor to the shopping experience, as 70% of respondents said that their online conversion rates were up in the past year. Also, 62% of retailers said repeats customers were up and 57% said average order values had increased.
Finally, while desktop sales remain double those on mobile, mobile has gained 36% this year versus only an 8% increase on desktop. Specifically, mobile app sales are growing 16% annually and 89% of retailers plan to increase their mobile investments.