Retail TouchPoints: Shopper Sentiment Research Finds Retailers ‘Behind the Mobile Curve’

Discussion
Jan 10, 2013

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Retail TouchPoints website.

According to a study from OpinionLab, a VoC solution provider, shoppers are demanding more streamlined shopping experiences, especially as they relate to mobile transactions.

The Holiday 2012 eCommerce Site Experience Findings report analyzed customer feedback from more than 43,000 online shoppers from Nov. 1, 2012 to Dec. 11. Satisfaction and experience scores were calculated using a Site Opinion Rating system: a scale from one to five, weighted to reflect key drivers of satisfaction, loyalty and purchase intent. Satisfaction was segmented by purpose of visit: customer service, to locate a store, research/browse/price hunt, and to purchase.

Results showed that consumers "embraced tablets" more than other devices to research, browse and price hunt, giving the technology a 3.65 rating. In comparison, smartphones (3.47) and desktops (2.94) received relatively low marks. But sentiment among consumers using their tablets to purchase an item was drastically low: shoppers gave their experiences only a 2.39 out of the possible 5.

"The tablet struggles in the purchasing experience," said Michael Whitehouse, senior marketing analyst at OpinionLab. "There is a massive gap between its use for purchasing and browsing. I believe this really speaks to the maturity of the tablet as a platform and strategy for retailers."

The top rating in purchasing was the desktop (2.90). Mobile ranked fairly close to tablet in purchasing rating with a 2.49.

Overall, mobile phones ranked the lowest in overall e-commerce experience satisfaction, with a rating of 3.19 versus 3.61 for tablets and 3.54 for the desktop.

"Generally, retailers have done a great job of providing ‘second screen content strategies’ for mobile browsing and researching. But for the transaction experience — either via apps or the mobile web — retailers aren’t where they should be," Mr. Whitehouse said.

Because retailers still are relatively "behind the mobile curve," Mr. Whitehouse advised that organizations focus on "ease of shopping and intuitiveness of purchasing processes." In fact, when visiting a retailer’s mobile web site, 42 percent of smartphone users and 34 percent of tablet shoppers indicated that they wanted to buy a product during their online sessions, but didn’t complete a transaction due to poor buying experiences.

"Consumers are looking to transact on their mobile devices," Mr. Whitehouse said. "This intent is running faster than retailers’ abilities to provide those seamless cross-channel experiences."

Do you agree that most retailers are behind the curve when it comes to mobile technology? What are the biggest issues you see with tablets and smartphones as a tool consumers use for purchasing products?

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18 Comments on "Retail TouchPoints: Shopper Sentiment Research Finds Retailers ‘Behind the Mobile Curve’"


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Frank Riso
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

I could not agree more. As a matter of fact, retailers will need to communicate with their customers on the smart phones even during the shopping experience in the store. I think retailers need to know when customers enter the store and who they are and maybe even what they are looking to buy that day. The shopper may even want to ask for help and or ask about inventory status while shopping.

Guest access is the way to go and then electronic marketing and added customer service. We all have them, so why not use the smartphone as merchandising media?

Tony Orlando
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

I have been researching mobile payments for my store, and until the smoke clears, and the gouging on fees subsides, I’m not playing the game.

Eventually a proper fee structure and a consolidation of services will come, but there are too many players wanting all your other credit business, for fees I’m not willing to pay. The ball is in their court, and if I’m naive, so be it, but 2.75% is too high for me.

Max Goldberg
Guest
9 years 4 months ago
The biggest issue is screen size. For years retail has done business on full-sized computer screens (13 inches+). Suddenly, retailers need to fit a lot of information into a 3-7 inch screen. It’s not easy, but it must be done, as consumers increasingly turn to their phones and tablets for information and purchases. In this area, retailers definitely lag behind consumers. Tablets and smart phones can’t be seen as extensions of computer screens just because they use the same technology—the internet—to deliver information. Each is a unique technology, with parameters that must be met to deliver a rewarding shopping experience. Images must be reformatted to fit phone screens and tables. The search process must be streamlined to make it easier for consumers to find what they are looking for on small screens. The checkout process should also be revamped. Retailers need to start from scratch and ask themselves, “How do I want to represent my stores on this technology and what will enhance the shopping and purchasing experience for consumers?” Then start building from the… Read more »
Liz Crawford
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

We need to cut retailers a bit of a break. Establishing web-based marketing programs and inventory systems, as well as digital user experiences that marry to in-store immersions—all of these things require new core competencies. That is new and different from traditional retailing and merchandising skills.

While shoppers are adopting digital modes of shopping, likewise retailers are ramping up their Go-To market clicks & mortar strategies. It’s a race for competitive advantage for retailers, but watch-outs exist. Some bleeding edge innovation will become footnotes in Harvard Case Studies.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

Not sure that retailers are behind the mobile technology curve, but they are certainly behind consumers’ expectations in that regard. Consumers expect to be able to have the same purchase experience on the small screen as they do on their big screens (laptops or desktops). Even though retailers have been optimizing their sites for use with mobile devices, there remain the inherent differences between a big screen where a lot of information can be displayed and a small one, and a keyboard versus a touch screen for data entry.

Not sure if the negative results regarding shopping with a cell phone are good news or bad news for those who are concerned with showrooming. Unfortunately the study didn’t indicate if that frustration then led to the consumers making their purchase via another technology or in a B&M retailer.

John Boccuzzi, Jr.
Guest
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
9 years 4 months ago
The data from this study is very interesting and it validates that one size does not fit all. What I mean is, a retailer can’t simply take their web page experience and quickly turn it into a Tablet and mobile experience. Each platform takes some unique configuring including design and navigation. When done right, a consumer should be able to easily move from in-store to mobile, tablet or web without feeling any pain or change in experience including promotions, pricing, loyalty data, and assortment. The only difference might be that tablet, mobile and web would have a larger assortment than in store. This data also points to the importance of the CMO and CIO working together more closely moving forward. SEO is not necessarily an IT function alone; it also has a lot to do with marketing and driving traffic (similar to more traditional marketing including printed ads). Same with promotions; they are no longer just a marketing function, but depend on IT to help deliver the best experience. Forester Research has presented on this… Read more »
Tom Redd
Guest
9 years 4 months ago
I would not say that most retailers are behind the curve on mobile. It is just that some are “approaching the curve” at a slower, “retail legal” speed. Retail legal speed—what is that? That is the speed at which a retailers approaches a new “generation driven technology” with the end-to-end retail picture in mind. They work it from the angle of adopting the new technology but monitoring the impact is has or will have across their full business model or end to end. There are many retailers that have hit the mobile curve at too high a speed and their critical core systems just cannot support the outcome. Their planning, forecasting and supply chain models/systems cannot map or meet the demands created by this shopper interaction speed. For example: a retailer fires out a hot promo offer across the mobile channel. The promo hits many shoppers at the perfect time and they are hyped. They share it on their favorite social network—orders come rolling in to the retailer—shoppers head to stores and they find the… Read more »
Ian Percy
Guest
9 years 4 months ago
I read this piece a dozen times … is something missing here? Maybe I’m not nearly as bright as my mother thought I was. First this line: “shoppers are demanding more streamlined shopping experiences…” I see nothing that leads to that conclusion. “Demanding”…really? And is it really “streamlined” shopping they’re looking for or have they simply given up on a stimulating, human, engaging in-store sensory experience? I’ve got a feeling consumers (us) don’t know how to ask for what they really want. That may be lucky because we probably don’t know how to to give it to them anyway. The implication here is that we all long for a “streamlined” culture. But we don’t. We want engagement. We want to be cared about. We want an energizing experience. If Starbucks was streamlined they’d have a dozen registers, pre-made drinks, no easy chairs to sit on and no internet causing people to loiter. Great novels would be 26 pages long. Academy nominated movies would be the length of a trailer. Spoiler alert: they get bin Laden.… Read more »
Herb Sorensen, Ph.D.
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

Guess what. Retailers are “behind the curve” in bricks stores, too. That is, shopper “efficiency” drives sales volume [Efficiency & Convenience: An Introduction to “The Third Wave” of Retailing], and retailers mostly measure anything BUT shopper efficiency. It was gratifying to see that Kroger was making a major initiative of this, and had made significant increases in checkout speed. Since most stores are SELF service, retailers tend to ignore how well shoppers are serving, or not serving themselves. Their focus tend to be the supply chain efficiency, which is of course of GREAT significance. But it doesn’t scratch the shopper where they itch.

Shep Hyken
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

The biggest challenge here is easily solved. A retailer needs a website that is mobile friendly, which typically means two websites. It really is that simple.

What shows up on your desktop computer may not look good on a tablet or smartphone. When a website is accessed, there is code that will detect if the customer is using a desktop or mobile device. Any company that does not have a mobile version of their website is “behind the curve.”

Gordon Arnold
Guest
9 years 4 months ago
Software and hardware size, weight and speed—these are the time-proven ingredients for any aspect of Information Technology (IT) success. As we speak, there are new designs in environmental software and hardware components that will allow for much more user-practical productivity. Voice recognition and user/object identification technologies will expand to cause the obsolescence of a large number of present-day input and output devices. Keyboards, stylus and plain old telephones systems (POTS) are losing justification for existence and will probably go the way of the beeper in the not to distant future. Computer displays, televisions and printers seem on the way to the chopping block as well. Any hand held device with Internet connection, a laser image projector and wireless communication technology like Bluetooth needs only a flat white screen or wall, speakers and an amplifier with communications software to get it done. The production run of these technologies is not a matter of if you believe it’ll happen, but rather a matter of time. Companies that manage and update their own IT infrastructure and to easily… Read more »
Lee Kent
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

Being a ‘highly customer facing’ industry, retail has always been the target of firing squads when it comes to new technology. As a result they often have to take a wait and see approach. Who knows what is going to stick and what is a flash in the pan?

That said, with the cost of entry of today’s technology, it behooves (my mother’s favorite word) retailers to get a move on. True, they don’t have the resources; true, they don’t have the skill set; true, it will be very expensive to re-position; they will still need to pick their moments and go for it.

As for purchasing. I’m not a payment person but hey, if the customer sets up an online account with the retailer, why can’t the retailer simply have them enter a 4 digit pass code to make a purchase on their smart phone or tablet? Sort of like PayPal is doing in-store. Easy peasy!

Ed Dunn
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

Retailers should approach mobile technology in 2013 with the same approach as Internet technology in 1990s. Just like the web had e-commerce, content, information lookup and multimedia, mobile is just a smaller snapshot of internet technology.

M-commerce is not for everyone, but works for line busting. Content can work for augmented data to showroom products such as reviews and ratings. Information lookup works for searching for products in store. And multimedia can work for advertising and entertainment to promote products and brands.

Pull out the old strategy white papers and books for e-commerce in retailing and apply the same decision and implementation process.

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
9 years 4 months ago

Would it make sense that security issues are greater with items that can be easily transported verses those that are not quite so “mobile”? The fact that purchases are more difficult to complete on mobile devices vs PC or Mac platforms is a very good thing. If retailers want to bear the risk of theft and fraud, then they should shoulder the burden of the loss when a stolen mobile device is used to illegally purchase something.

Well now, you say, that’s not the fault of the retailer. Well in the retailer’s eyes, nothing is ever their fault! The easier you make it for someone to steal the more they will steal from you. Retailers should concentrate on presenting themselves well, being competitive, and providing the best service possible. They should leave the risk of transactions to those who know that industry.

Kenneth Leung
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

E-commerce retailers have generally done a good job with tablet and mobile phone in terms of browser optimization and making native apps available for browsing and shopping. It is really a case of properly investing in the web and mobile infrastructure. The technology is there, it is the will and priority to execute.

Vahe Katros
Guest
Vahe Katros
9 years 4 months ago
The analysts say we are a fast follower industry. Our low margins mean we have to play it smart. So we wait. We wait for evolution, we wait for Y2K, we wait for Amazon, we wait for the right time to catch the wave. My first wave was the EPOS wave—when I was part of the second training class at IBM/Raleigh for the 4680. When I bought the symbol technology scanner for Federated. When I implemented email for May Company in 1987 and networks and data warehouses, and when I registered BN.com right after Al Gore invented the internet. I remember the Kurt Salmon study on QR, I started Retail Systems Alert, I remember the fear of being Amazoned and how it helped a two-person start-up called Blue Martini that I joined when it was an LLC. Why the bloviating? Because things are serious again and I wanted to convey that I understand the arc of our recent history. The issue this time is that competition is no longer limited to geography and commute time/proximity—even… Read more »
Martin Mehalchin
Guest
Martin Mehalchin
9 years 4 months ago

One of the reasons that tablets and phones have been better for browsing than buying is that text entry of address and credit card info on a mobile device is clumsy. Amazon doesn’t face this problem since most of us shop it frequently enough that we log in to our accounts and everything is there allowing us to shop with one or two clicks.

For stores that are shopped with less frequency, it can be a major barrier and the desktop remains more convenient. This is crying out for a platform/digital wallet solution that the industry could standardize around. PayPal and the credit card companies are among the providers that could enable a standard platform.

Michael Whitehouse
Guest
Michael Whitehouse
9 years 4 months ago

@Ian Percy: I’m sorry you disagree with my assertion that customers are looking to transact on their mobile devices. All I can say is that we’re not alone in drawing these conclusions. Other companies have run studies that have yielded similar results. For example, a recent SapientNitro study found that 74% of US smartphone owners admitted to using their devices to make a purchase during the Holiday 2012 period.

I agree that folks want engagement, but there’s clear evidence that mobile convenience is equally important.

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