What are the greatest pain points for mobile checkout?

Source: Lowe’s
May 24, 2021

Mobile commerce took a leap over the last year as consumers embraced store pickup options and contactless payments during the pandemic. Even with growing adoption, mobile shopping faces challenges in a number of areas that need to be addressed for retailers and their customers to get full benefit from the experience.

Incognia’s “Mobile App Friction Study on mCommerce Checkout” analyzed the mobile app experience from 12 retailers: Target, Walmart, Costco, Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Sephora, Ulta Beauty, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Wayfair, Joann and Hobby Lobby.

The factors used to grade app checkout friction were:

  • Time required to complete a purchase;
  • The number of screens presented during the purchasing process;
  • The number of clicks required to complete a purchase;
  • The number of fields and checkboxes required as part of the purchase process;
  • The specific payment options offered;
  • Whether pick up in-store, curbside, same-day and extended delivery options were available.

Lowe’s, Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond and Sephora had the least m-commerce checkout friction based on the lowest combination of required clicks, screens, fields and overall purchase time.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Lowest Checkout Friction (pickup purchase): Lowe’s, Bed Bath & Beyond and Home Depot.
  • Lowest Checkout Friction (delivery purchase): Sephora, Lowe’s and Home Depot.
  • Four minutes: Average time to complete the checkout process for pickup orders. Joann was best at 2:41 minutes.
  • 3.5 minutes: Average time to complete the checkout process for delivery orders. Hobby Lobby was best at 2:36 minutes.
  • 12 fields: Average number of fields required for pickup and delivery orders. Lowe’s and Sephora were tied for the best at three fields.
  • 25 clicks: Average number of clicks required for pickup orders. Lowe’s performed best with 16 clicks.
  • 22 clicks: Average number of clicks required for delivery orders. Sephora performed best at 9.

Lowe’s recently upgraded its mobile checkout to improve service speed in high-traffic in-store situations as well as in outside areas such as lawn and garden. “This checkout app developed in-house is allowing us to take care of customers from scanning items, tendering payment, and printing or emailing receipts before they even join a line,” Joe McFarland, Lowe’s EVP, stores, told analysts last Wednesday on a quarterly call. “Our customers are delighted with the solution, especially on busy weekends.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What are the obvious and less obvious pain points around mobile checkout? Overall, would you rate the mobile pay process as complicated or easy?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"I see people struggling with mobile pay systems. It’s simple. Educate the customer and they will not only use it, they will appreciate you for showing them how."
"Mobile checkout processes need to be simple and secure — two factors which sometimes are at odds with each other."
"Simply put, companies should make it very easy to take our money without having to manually enter in your credit card information with each transaction."

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20 Comments on "What are the greatest pain points for mobile checkout?"

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Brandon Rael

Considering the level of innovation in the digital space, retailers and brands should make the mobile checkout experience as seamless as possible. There should be a frictionless and intuitive path to purchase on our mobile devices. Simply put, companies should make it very easy to take our money without having to manually enter in your credit card information with each transaction.

With the advent of Apple Pay, Google Pay, and other mobile payment options, retailers and brands should capitalize on integrating this as one of the main options during the checkout process. The industry has a mixed bag, and there are clear winners in the space who have raised the customer experience levels, so the checkout process is as simple as a single click or face scan.

Shep Hyken

The list in the article is spot on. The key is for the customer to understand how to use their phone. I see people struggling with mobile pay systems. It’s simple. Educate the customer and they will not only use it, they will appreciate you for showing them how. Employees need to be patient and understanding – and trained how to teach customers how to use their mobile pay systems. It may take a moment, but it’s a moment that could be the reason the customer comes back next time.

Nikki Baird

The point about employees is especially spot on, because they are often expected to be the first line of help desk – and often are never trained on how to provide that kind of help. If you could provide that kind of help without the pressure of a line behind you (“set up your quick pay here!”), that could yield an enormous amount of uptake. Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come – retailers do need to put some effort into getting customers to use it, and store employees are an important part of that.

Carol Spieckerman
Carol Spieckerman
President, Spieckerman Retail
1 year 2 months ago

Couldn’t agree more with Shep and Nikki. Instruction-to-adoption is a huge miss.

Christine Russo

The technology is evolving faster than the psychological adaptation AND the physical adoption. This is one of the reasons why retailers are slow to take on new tech solutions – it can cause more headaches and a better, faster mousetrap may just be around the corner.

David Naumann

The time and number of clicks required to check out from most retail mobile apps is still too long (IMHO). While Amazon wasn’t included in the analysis, I bet they would have beat them all. Amazon and Starbucks probably have the best mobile app experiences and retailers should try to emulate that type of experience. Frustrating customers with cumbersome or lengthy checkout processes is not a loyalty builder.

Ken Morris

So how do we compete with Amazon’s one click — 16 clicks? This is absurd. Type once, use many times should be the mantra. Nobody should have to type their name over again or credit card information. In-store security tags are also an issue with removal taking too much time and this can easily be replaced with RFID. We can’t compete with Amazon without re-imagining the customer journey.

Venky Ramesh

Surprisingly, none of the grocery retailers made the cut. Even though e-commerce penetration in grocery is around 10 percent currently, that is growing fast and expected to touch 20 percent. The segment also has the highest frequency of transactions. Just like how they are focusing on making the online order fulfillment frictionless through a myriad of experimentation that is going on in the industry, I think there is a big opportunity for them to make the purchasing process as frictionless as well to welcome the customers on to the growing channel.

Suresh Chaganti

Having to remember the discount code (the one they advertised on the homepage) is the single biggest pain point, on desktop or mobile. But using mobile it is extra painful.

Having to re-enter your information if you back out to change options or add/modify items is a close second.

Gary Sankary

The best mobile checkout experience is obviously the one that requires the least amount of screens and input. Companies that have my credit card and shipping details tied to my account obviously are the fastest and have least friction in the transaction. The question that I always have however is this; do I want yet another company/website to have my payment details and expose potentially sensitive data to being stolen? Given the not-so-stellar track record in this space by many retailers, there are reasons to be concerned. Overall most retailers are doing a really good job making this process easy and painless. The next step, in my opinion, is to improve security and confidence that my data is safe.

Matthew Brogie
1 year 2 months ago

I’ll piggy-back on your comments Gary: Improved security will enable more innovative ways to streamline the process. For me, the biggest pain points come with having to type anything in; selecting dropdowns or verifying that some info is correct is no problem, and frankly I don’t mind taking the time to validate. What I don’t like is being given the opportunity to introduce typos that could confound the process or misguide my shipment. The more that an etailer can *safely* remember or know about me, the better they can make the process.

Jeff Weidauer

Mobile checkout is still too complicated; the focus is more to protect the retailer than to make things easy and seamless for the shopper. And educating customers requires an investment on the part of the retailer, an investment that many retailers are unwilling to make.

Jennifer Bartashus

If the checkout process isn’t clean and simple, it isn’t effective. On a mobile device, small screen sizes should mean entering only absolutely necessary information. This is where loyalty programs or saved profiles can help – though customers should ideally be logged in before the checkout process starts. Checkout should also be the same across the omnichannel framework regardless of device used so customers have a consistent experience. Other friction points include too many “did you forget” or “other customers also bought” prompts, too many payment methods listed, and choosing fulfillment options during the checkout process instead of while building the cart.

Joan Treistman

There’s nothing like an objective evaluation to stray from the perception of the user that makes the decision to buy or not buy from that retailer. I’ll bet that users were willing to endure pain points to a greater degree when it came time to make a vaccination appointment than purchase a frying pan. What retailers should be assessing is how their current and potential shoppers consider pain points on their site. I’ve done research in this area over the years and it’s the shopper who determines what is tolerable and what is not. And for the mobile user, pain varies from one transaction goal to another. And the willingness to stick with a painful experience through checkout varies from one transaction goal to another. To provide a satisfactory checkout experience for the consumer requires first understanding the consumer’s experience.

Gene Detroyer

Who hasn’t experienced the frustrations listed in the Tom’s article? Who hasn’t just walked away from the purchase because of the complexity? I almost never order online with mobile. I usually put the item in the cart and finish the order when on my laptop. Why is it so difficult on the phone?

Raj B. Shroff
I think there is a big distinction between m-commerce checkout out of store and mobile checkout in-store. This article seems to mention both. M-commerce checkout should obviously be simple, the biggest pain points are around discount codes and payment unless the retailer has solved for these — which by now, should be easy. In-store mobile checkout by way of the app/phone is different. I think what Lowe’s is talking about is a step in the right direction. What I am not clear on is “before they even join a line” means you still have to wait in line to verify your purchase. If that’s the case, it might not really save anyone much time. So far, several retailers have tried the scan ahead, verify purchase model, but I am not sure anyone has done it really well besides Amazon Go. Starbucks is another great example. I still have to wait in line, I can easily scan to pay. But you can avoid the line by ordering ahead. I would say for those trying to line… Read more »
Ananda Chakravarty
The click stats don’t reflect actual customer experiences. The article identified pickup and delivery purchases. Mobile checkout has been fantastic on certain sites (Walmart, Home Depot come to mind) and despite the 12 fields, most of these are prefilled by the browser (mobile browser or web app the process is simplified) and definitely prefilled in an app — so it’s just checking to make sure product is set up correctly — 1-3 clicks, the click count is way off. When I worked at a retailer (~10 years ago), we developed the entire process with consultants to simplify and make it straightforward and metrics showed dramatic increase in performance for customers. These processes have matured even further today. For in-store pickup, curbside, or online order, the process can take less time than outlined in the study and most of the time can be attributed to the customer looking to change something in their selection. Mobile checkout also works best for small basket sizes with a few items, hence the challenge for most grocery stores to make… Read more »
Richard J. George, Ph.D.

Consumers define pain and delight for every type of checkout — mobile or in store. The #1 most cited customer service negative issue for shopping in store is the dreaded end of the visit, namely, checkout. While this continues to be an evolutionary process, the same should not said for mobile checkout. As noted by other panelists, the technology is available. The challenge now is to engineer the process from the customer’s point of view, not the retailer’s. Review the process and identify everywhere that the customer needs to compromise, that is, doing something they would rather not do, like re-enter a promotion code. Remove these compromises and pain will decline and sales will increase.

Harley Feldman

The pain points for mobile checkout include small keyboards on phones, the number of clicks to create an order, the number of clicks to get back after going down the wrong path and the same problem when changing mind after getting to the purchase point in the app. The mobile payment process is still complicated to the extent that each retailer has a different app. As consumers continually use the apps and provide feedback to the retailer, the apps will improve.

Kim DeCarlis
Mobile checkout processes need to be simple and secure — two factors which sometimes are at odds with each other. Digital and mobile teams want to minimize the clicks it takes to complete a purchase, while security teams want to make sure that the transaction is being performed by a real person, not a bot. Unfortunately attacks on checkout are among the most serious because they reach the stage of fraudulently attempting to purchase a product or service. As such, security teams often impose verification systems on transactions, requiring customers to identify pictures or type words that they see in a distorted graphic on the site. These systems can lead to frustration and high abandonment rates, particularly from certain demographics that are skeptical about online shopping to begin with or have trouble seeing the graphic. It is important that retailers keep security and ease in balance, perhaps using verifications that are simple for humans and hard for bots, and only requiring additional steps based on transaction size or change to the account — such as… Read more »
"I see people struggling with mobile pay systems. It’s simple. Educate the customer and they will not only use it, they will appreciate you for showing them how."
"Mobile checkout processes need to be simple and secure — two factors which sometimes are at odds with each other."
"Simply put, companies should make it very easy to take our money without having to manually enter in your credit card information with each transaction."

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