SORO 2015 Interactive Infographic

Staying on top of trends in the retail industry is practically a full-time job. For retail brand marketers, staying up-to-date on marketing and sales trends can be just as challenging.

Here at Ceros, we rely on expert research to learn how retail marketing is evolving over time. One of our favorite studies is the State of Online Retailing (SORO) report, put together by our friends at the National Retail Federation’s, Forrester Research, and Bizrate Insights.

To summarize this year’s results, we partnered with the NRF to create this interactive infographic, SORO: An Eyewitness to the Growth of Digital Retail. You can explore the data visualization and read our commentary on these emerging trends below.

Trend 1: Content Is Still King

Online retailers are continuing to see ROI from great brand content. Here are a few compelling trends that came out of the SORO report for 2015.

70% of online merchants are putting resources toward improving site content in 2015.

A retailer’s greatest digital asset is their website. This is where consumer interest, education, and purchases all happen. It’s no wonder that retailers are investing more time and money into improving their sites with videos, shoppable banners and lookbooks, and other content that helps communicate their story to shoppers.

Retail marketers plan to spend more on social media in 2015.

Social media has been an effective marketing channel for retail brands for years, but two changes have driven an increase in spend in recent years:

  1. The explosion of visual channels like Instagram, Pinterest, SnapChat, and Vine.
  2. The rise of commerce integrations such as Curalate, Pixlee, and Buyable Pins.

Online merchandisers are investing in user-generated social content.

Retailers have always known that word-of-mouth marketing is the most powerful kind. With the proliferation of user-generated social content, online retail brands are beginning to find ways to use this content to their advantage by running contests, reposting content from customers, and curating galleries of customer photos and posts as social proof on their websites.

Trend 2: Mobile Takes Center Stage for Sales

There’s a reason why retailers say that mobile is a top priority: Mobile traffic continues to increase year over year, and sales from mobile devices are growing as well. Here’s what the retailers surveyed revealed.

Growing retail web traffic comes from smartphones.

Consumers are spending more and more web browsing time on mobile devices instead of desktop

In 2014, smartphone sales grew an average of 87%.

While desktop still accounts for the bulk of eCommerce sales, both smartphone and tablet sales are on the rise. As mobile websites and checkout experiences continue to get more user-friendly, we’ll undoubtedly see even more growth in mobile commerce over the coming years.

Online merchandisers are focusing on smartphone checkouts this year.

This trend makes complete sense, given the shift in traffic from desktop to mobile. I’m only surprised the percentage isn’t higher.

IDC forecasts 45.7 million wearables will be sold in 2015.

How mobile commerce plays out on wearable devices is still undefined, but this new channel represents a huge opportunity for retailers who are early adopters.

Trend 3: Social and Mobile Ads Gain Traction

One of the keys to successful advertising is to “go where your customers are.” For this reason, retailers are flocking to social and mobile channels to reach their target audiences. A few compelling trends from this year’s SORO report are shared in the infographic.

Retailers are spending more on Facebook ads than in 2014.

Given Facebook’s diminishing organic reach and its increasingly sophisticated ad targeting and format options, it’s no wonder that retailers are investing more in advertising. Still, for an already huge network, this is a significant increase in advertising spend.

Retailers spend 33% of their digital marketing budgets on SEM.

Google alone fields over 1 trillion search queries each year. Trying to outrank the competition and claim a chunk of this huge search volume requires spend on both the SEM front and the SEO side.

Retailers are using location-based beacon technology for mobile marketing.

In-store beacons can be an effective way to deliver real-time deals and recommendations to shoppers, and retailers are reaping real benefits from location marketing.