Too often, digital technology has been seen by the retail industry as disruptive, but the increasing demand for mobile shopping, combined with a growing number of online retailers opening bricks-and-mortar stores, points to a different reality: physical retail isn’t going away, though it needs to adapt with the times.

A recent survey by Shop.org, Forrester Research, and Bizrate Insights which asked North American retailers what the top three priorities for their digital businesses would be in 2016 highlighted the industry’s slow embrace of this new reality, with 59 per cent of respondents saying that mobile and marketing were leading priorities, according to eMarketer.

Another significant priority was site merchandising, which 41 per cent of retailers said would be a leading priority for their digital business this year. Other improvements, such as checkout overhaul, omnichannel efforts, and international expansion initiatives, were cited as top priorities by fewer than 25 per cent of businesses surveyed. Customer service and organization came in last, cited as a leading priority by only two per cent and three per cent of retailers, respectively.

Leading Priorities for Digital Business

Glacial as its pace may be, the survey highlights the retail industry’s growing recognition of the positive impact mobile technology can have on its future: eMarketing notes that in 2014, 57 per cent of global retailers surveyed by Payvision experienced major growth in mobile commerce sales, while a 2015 survey found that 34 per cent of respondents agreed, and 45 per cent “strongly” agreed, that the annual rate of growth in mobile sales was significant.

Retail e-commerce growth worldwide

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