By Brecken Branstrator
King of Prussia, Pa.--Retailers will be investing in consumer-facing tactics like price, marketing and customer service over improvements in strategic infrastructure this holiday season, according to a recent survey from eBay Enterprise.

EBay Enterprise’s 2014 Holiday Retail Audit surveyed more than 1,000 e-commerce and marketing professionals from retailers with revenues of $5 million to $250 million, examining planned investments in retail infrastructure ahead of the holiday season and outlining key trends that retailers will be focusing on this year.

The survey found that retailers are putting a renewed focus on marketing efforts for the upcoming holiday season, investing in tools that can help them capture in-store consumer data, according to eBay Enterprise. This includes social media, email promotions and search engine optimization.

This online and in-store data analysis helps retailers create more meaningful customer interactions to drive online and offline purchases.

But as retailers focus on optimizing consumer data, they are neglecting a few areas that could help them compete in the retail environment this holiday season, including mobile commerce, also known as m-commerce, the survey shows.

Though respondents indicated that mobile commerce was their top competitive weakness and the area of infrastructure where they are least confident, more than half of them, 68 percent, said they did not have any plans for new or continued investments in this area in 2014.

Only about one-third of online retailers indicated that mobile commerce was an investment priority this holiday season, ranking it ninth among priorities. This indicates the retail industry’s lack of urgency in creating long-term mobile infrastructure, despite the fact that mobile commerce continues to be the fastest growing segment of e-commerce, eBay Enterprise said.

“As mobile purchasing continues to grow exponentially, a lack of investment in mobile commerce this holiday season provides retailers who have made this a priority an opportunity to capture significant market share if they can provide the best mobile experience,” said Mark Lavelle, senior vice president of global product for eBay Enterprise. “Responsive web design can be a strategic investment for retailers that want to offer a seamless mobile experience across desktop, mobile and tablet devices.”

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The firm added that consumer-facing tactics also are being prioritized before infrastructure investments that could increase shipping speed and optimize fulfillment of orders.

This is especially notable because 51 percent of retailers said that they see Amazon as a direct competitor, with a perceived edge in mobile commerce, inventory, shipping, and returns, but are doing little to decrease that advantage.

“Retailers have an opportunity to win this battleground by increasing their delivery speed. Multichannel retailers can optimize their brick-and-mortar locations as distribution points to fulfill orders closest to customer location, reducing shipping times and cost through inventory and order management solutions,” said Tom Barone, the head of omnichannel operations in North America for eBay Enterprise. 

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