Retail innovation investment plans are currently being driven by performance and ambition, according to the second edition of the 'Eccomplished Quarterly', which highlighted the apparently critical role of innovation in driving online retail success. This article is copyright 2012 The Best Customer Guide.

The study explored online retailers' investment plans for 2012 and beyond, based on original research and drawing on interviews with ecommerce directors and heads of ecommerce, and examined the extent to which those investment plans reflected the respondents' revenue ambitions for the year.

In a climate of economic uncertainty, retailers are now planning for growth. While for many, the London Olympics represented a huge promotional and revenue generating opportunity, the day-to-day focus is clearly on driving customer loyalty.

According to Darren Hitchcock, VP Europe for Rich Relevance and a founding member of Eccomplished, "Three quarters (74%) of online retailers are investing in customer loyalty and retention, a priority that reflects the relative maturity of the online retail market. Within their core markets there are few untapped consumer segments, which makes retention and loyalty critical."

The report paints an optimistic picture when it comes to growth expectations, but also suggests that economic and technological pressures are playing a key role in shaping investments in innovation. And, in the longer term, the returns will begin to show for big investments in the social channel, the mobile channel, and personalisation.

Steve Rivers, managing director for Intelligent Reach, concluded: "Overall the picture is one of optimism and ambition, but backed by real investment in innovation. Retailers are determined to get to grips with the increasingly sophisticated and fickle demands of constantly connected consumers - the digital natives who have grown up with social and touch and who retailers must learn to attract and retain all over again across a whole range of new channels."