Traditional Webs satisfy shoppers, mobile apps don't

Wednesday, 12 January 2011
Not even a click away but at your hand reach. Retail therapy is likely to be closer than ever, as an increasing number of visitors to UK retailer websites are accessing these sites using their mobile phones: 32% of purchases are made by mobile phone.

“Any retailer not actively working to develop, measure, and refine its mobile experience is leaving money on the table for competitors.” This one of the main findings presented in the last report by ForeSee Results, which found that nearly a third (32%) of visitors to the biggest retail websites in the UK have used their mobile phones to access these sites, compared with 23% a year ago.

“It looks like nearly two-thirds of all shoppers in the UK will soon be using their mobile phones for retail purposes if they aren’t already,” said Kevin Ertell, vice president of retail strategy at ForeSee Results and author of the report.

Regarding the purposes, the majority of shoppers who used their phones for retail purposes did so to compare price information (47%). Shoppers also used their phones to compare different products (34%), to look up product specifications (20%), and to view product reviews (15%). While in physical stores, more than two-thirds of mobile shoppers (67%) used their phones to visit the store’s own website, but one-quarter (26%) used their phones to access a competitor’s website. This proportion is up substantially from 2009, when only 17% of mobile shoppers accessed a competitor’s site from within a store.

In general, shoppers rate their satisfaction with retail websites significantly higher (72 on the study’s 100-point scale) than their satisfaction with mobile experiences (apps and sites) (67). A similar score gap is present in the U.S., although scores for both websites (78) and mobile experiences (75) were higher. “It’s true that mobile sites have far less maturity than traditional e-retail websites,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results. “But I’m not sure that matters to consumers. Their expectations are being set by the best websites and the best mobile experiences. They aren’t going to have a lot of patience for excuses about the challenges that mobile shopping presents when it comes to design and usability. Retailers in both the United States and the United Kingdom need to step up their game in this area.”

The study points out how the mobile purchase behaviour is exploding, with a total of 8% of web shoppers reported having made a purchase from their phones this Christmas season, compared to only 2% at this time last year. This 8% figure lags the U.S., but only by a little; 11% of American shoppers have bought something on their mobile phone.

Shoppers who are satisfied with their mobile experience are also more likely to buy from that retailer online and offline. “It’s another reminder and a nice way to quantify that every customer touch point matters to overall loyalty and sales,” added Ertell. “Retailers cannot afford to ignore or even neglect the mobile experience and assume it won’t hurt their traditional online or in-store
business.”

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