International study indicates huge potential for mobile retail

The evolution of mobile technology has given rise to the empowered consumer: at the touch of a button, almost anywhere, consumers can research products, companies, and even make purchases. How does this trend impact a retailer’s bottom line? What can retailers do to retain mobile shoppers as customers across all channels?

As part of a study of nearly 10,000 visitors to the biggest e-retail websites in the United Kingdom (determined by traffic, according to IMRG), ForeSee Results used a scientific, predictive methodology to examine the impact of mobile shopping trends on retailers’ future business.  ForeSee Results’ methodology is able to show how customers’ satisfaction with various interactions with a company (including mobile shopping and applications) impacts their purchase intent, loyalty, and recommendations across all channels.

We found that the use of mobile phones to access companies’ websites, mobile websites and applications for shopping purposes is increasing dramatically in both the UK and the US, indicating that any retailer who is not wholeheartedly embracing the mobile trend is leaving money on the table for competitors.

Key findings include:

• Shoppers are using mobile phones to access websites and apps more than ever before. Thirty-two of respondents have used their phone to access a retail website, and an additional 32 percent indicated they plan to access retail websites or mobile apps by phone in the future.

• Mobile purchase behaviour is exploding. A total of 8 percent of web shoppers reported having made a purchase from their phones this Christmas season, compared to only 2 percent at this time last year. This 8 percent figure lags the US, but only by a little; 11 percent of American shoppers have bought something on their mobile phone.

• Shoppers use their phones for a variety of tasks. The majority of shoppers who used their phones for retail purposes did so to compare price information (47 percent). Shoppers also used their phones to compare different products (34 percent), to look up product specifications (20 percent), and to view product reviews (15 percent). 

• Shoppers use their phones to look at competitor websites. While in physical stores, more than two-thirds of mobile shoppers (67 percent) used their phones to visit the store’s own website, but one-quarter (26 percent) used their phones to access a competitor’s website.  This proportion is up substantially from 2009, when only 17 percent of mobile shoppers accessed a competitor’s site from within a store.

• Traditional websites satisfy shoppers more than mobile sites and apps. 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 US, although scores for both websites (78) and mobile experiences (75) were higher.

• Good experiences with mobile sites and apps have critical cross-channel impact. Shoppers who are highly satisfied with a mobile experience say they are 32 percent more likely to buy from that retailer online and 31 percent more likely to buy offline, as well as being far more likely to return to the main website, recommend it, and be loyal to the brand.

Applications and websites tailored to mobile shoppers are a must-have for retailers. As smartphone use increases, more customers will turn to the mobile channel to find price and product information before making a purchase. Whether or not a customer turns to a specific retailer’s site or app will be dependent on availability and ease of use. Since satisfaction with mobile experiences drives critical customer behaviour, the measurement of satisfaction with websites, mobile websites, and mobile apps shoppers is a necessity.   

Kevin Ertell, is vice president, retail strategy at customer satisfaction measurement specialist ForeSee Results.

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