Confidence among online retail professionals is strong, as a new report suggests that 94% of web merchants will grow and reinvest in their businesses in some way early this year.
The study, dubbed the Epic Report by site search technology firm SLI Systems, presents findings from a survey conducted in February of more than 200 e-commerce companies around the world about their confidence level and general outlook of e-commerce in the first quarter.
When asked about their first quarter plans, the most common answer from retailers—given by 84% of them—was plans to add products or product lines. 61% said they planned to purchase or implement new technology.
The survey found stark differences in retailers’ desire to make acquisitions or expand globally depending on where those merchants are located. For instance, nearly 25% of U.S.-based respondents said their businesses planned to make acquisitions during the quarter, compared with just 9% of U.K. retailers.
Meanwhile, 40% of U.K. respondents were expanding into new international markets, compared with 28% of U.S. respondents and 8% of respondents in Australia.
Hiring plans were generally in sync among respondents. An average of 61% of those headquartered in each of the most represented regions in the study—the U.S., U.K., Australia and New Zealand—planned to hire new employees for the period that ended March 31.
Retailers are optimistic about several key metrics that drive online sales, as 82% say they expected an increase in site traffic in the first quarter, followed by 80% who expected a boost in sales and profits.
More than 70% of retailers expected an increase in their conversion rate compared with 2016’s first quarter, and 73% predicted a jump in mobile transactions.
While they may be optimistic overall, some merchants expected the Trump administration to hurt their business. Globally, 23% of retailers said they expect it to “somewhat negatively” impact their web business with 2% predicting a “very negative” impact. Feelings were pretty similar from around the world on the other side, as 16% of retailers expected a “somewhat positive” impact from the Trump administration, while 4% expected a “very positive” impact. 36% expected no impact either way.
What are retailers focused on this year? The report suggests customer experience, fulfillment and mobile are the top three priorities.