Infographic: L2 Digital IQ Index, specialty retail

I love this summary on how to navigate the future of specialty retail online:

Part of the second annual L2 Digital IQ Index: Specialty Retail report from digital think tank L2 in partnership with Buddy Media, it shows the past, present and future of everything from distribution channels to mobile strategy and visual merchandising.

So how far off from “tomorrow” are we – a vision made up of mobile wallets, geolocal content, video chat customer service and shoppable product videos?

None of those suggestions are of course that new, but by the looks of the results from the L2 study, they remain somewhat elusive to everyday practice in US retail.

Just three retailers secured “genius” status in terms of digital competency in the 2011 report – Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret and Nordstrom – compared with seven last year.

This is said to be due to mobile and social platforms taking on new levels of importance in 2011, which resulted in the likes of A|X Armani Exchange (down 32%) and Coach (down 33%) only achieving “gifted” scores.

In fact, of the 64 retailers assessed, the majority (70%) sit in “gifted” or “average”. This figure is however up from 49% from the inaugural study in 2010, proving the industry’s adoption of digital platforms is accelerating.

The retailers were evaluated across four dimensions: their website (including integration of original blog content, ease of content sharing, and interactivity); digital marketing (covering search engine optimisation, email marketing, and user generated sentiment); social media (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube); and mobile offering (defined by breadth of platform development and app features). Retailers had to score 140 across the categories to score genius.

Joining A|X Armani Exchange and Coach in the gifted category (a score of between 110 and 139) are the likes of Bloomingdales, Urban Outfitters, Net-a-Porter, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Ralph Lauren.

Average brands (a score of between 90 and 109) include Barneys New York, Ann Taylor, J. Crew and Lord & Taylor, while those challenged (a score of between 70 and 89) include French Connection and Lucky Brand. The only two with feeble rankings (below 70) are Club Monaco and Tourneau because they are yet to offer e-commerce.

“Historically, specialty retailers have differentiated themselves from low-cost peers by establishing an aspirational environment, edited selection, and top-shelf service, all mixed with traditional media spend. The offline strategy is still the right one, but the tactics and weapons have changed,” said L2 founder Scott Galloway.

“Brands that are thriving are engaging in conversations directly with their customers on social media platforms, creating new and interesting ways to purchase online, and building innovative mobile apps to augment the shopping experience.”

Check out the full report, here.