Report: Fewer retail CFOs expect online sales growth

Chicago - Mobile and online sales will continue to drive growth for retailers in 2014. However, according to a recent BDO USA survey, a majority (64%) of retail CFOs expect that online sales will grow in 2014, representing a modest decline from the number of CFOs expressing similar sentiments in 2013 (74%).

At the same time, 34% anticipate that their online sales will remain consistent with the prior year, up 62% from 2013. Despite this realignment, however, retailers are confident that e-commerce will remain a profitable channel in 2014. They project 8.2% growth in online sales this year. To achieve this projected growth, 34% of CFOs are focusing primarily on developing their e-commerce and mobile commerce platforms as many companies attempt to streamline and integrate multiple channels in order to compete with major players like Amazon. Along with e-commerce and mobile commerce, CFOs are also improving their merchandise assortment (28%) and expanding within the U.S. (24%) to achieve growth in the year ahead.

A plurality of CFOs (27%) say they will invest the most capital in 2014 in IT systems and technology. Meanwhile, 18% of CFOs plan to invest the most capital in e-commerce channels, and 12% say that mobile application development will encompass their largest investment, with a full 40% planning to increase their investment in mobile overall.

“After a banner year of e-commerce and m-commerce growth in 2013, retailers largely expect these platforms to keep delivering big returns in the year ahead,” said Natalie Kotlyar, partner in the Retail and Consumer Products practice at BDO USA. “But safeguarding this future growth requires retailers to invest across channels in order to deliver a safe, seamless and efficient experience for shoppers. All the moving parts, mobile apps, websites, supply chain IT systems, brick-and-mortar, need to be carefully coordinated for companies to hold their own in this fiercely competitive landscape.”

These findings are from the eighth annual BDO Retail Compass Survey of CFOs, which examined the opinions of 100 CFOs at leading retailers located throughout the country. The retailers in the study were among the largest in the country. The survey was conducted in January 2014.