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Apps, mobile site must-haves for retailers: research

Applications and Web sites tailored to mobile shoppers are must-haves for retailers as consumers are using mobile phones more than ever for retail purposes, according to research from customer experience analytics firm ForeSee Results.

As smartphone use increases, more customers are turning to the mobile channel to find prices and product information before making a purchase. Whether or not a customer turns to a specific retailer’s mobile site or application will be dependent on availability and ease of use, and since satisfaction with mobile experiences drives critical customer behavior, the measurement of shoppers’ satisfaction with Web sites, mobile Web sites and applications is a necessity.  

“I think one of the most interesting and surprising findings is that traditional Web sites satisfy shoppers more than mobile sites and apps,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results, Ann Arbor, MI. “Consumers’ expectations are not being met.

“The good news is the usage of mobile apps is rising fast,” he said. “Retailers need to keep pace with consumer expectations and improve the user experience and satisfaction with mobile sites and apps.

“Retailers need to listen to consumers and measure their success not only by behavioral data but by satisfaction data as well.”

As part of a study of nearly 10,000 visitors to the biggest revenue-generating ecommerce Web sites in the United States, ForeSee Results used the methodology of the American Customer Satisfaction Index to examine how mobile shopping trends during the holiday season could have year-long implications.

The ACSI shows how customers’ satisfaction with mobile Web sites and applications impacts their future purchase intent, loyalty and recommendations across all channels.

Mobile shopping is here to stay
Key findings of the report released today include the fact that shoppers are using mobile phones to access Web sites and applications more than ever before—33 percent of respondents have used their phone to access a retailer Web site, and an additional 26 percent indicated they plan to access retailer Web sites or mobile applications by phone in the future.

ForeSee said that more than half of all shoppers will soon be using their mobile phones for retail purposes.

Any retailer not actively working to develop, measure, and refine its mobile experience is leaving money on the table for competitors, per ForeSee.

Mobile purchase behavior is exploding.

A total of 11 percent of Web shoppers reported having made a purchase from their phones this holiday season, compared to only 2 percent at this time last year.

Shoppers use their phones for a variety of tasks. The majority of shoppers who used their phones did so to compare price information—56 percent.

Shoppers also used their phones to compare different products (46 percent), to look up product specifications (35 percent) and to view product reviews (27 percent). 

Shoppers use their phones to look at competitor Web sites.

While in physical stores, more than two-thirds of mobile shoppers (69 percent) used their phones to visit the store’s own Web site, but nearly half (46 percent) also used their phones to access a competitor’s Web site.

Traditional Web sites satisfy shoppers more than mobile sites and applications.

In general, shoppers rate their satisfaction with retail Webmsites significantly higher (78 on the study’s 100-point scale) than their satisfaction with mobile sites and applications (75).

Good experiences with mobile sites and applications have critical cross-channel impact, per ForeSee.

Shoppers who are highly satisfied with a mobile experience say they are 30 percent more likely to buy from that retailer online and 30 percent more likely to buy offline, as well as being far more likely to return to the main Web site, recommend it and be loyal to the brand.

Every customer touch point matters to overall loyalty and sales.

Retailers cannot afford to ignore or neglect the mobile experience and assume it will not hurt their traditional online or in-store business, per ForeSee

Mr. Freed said that mobile provides an incremental channel to shoppers.

If a given retailer is not there and their competitors are, they take on two risks.

One is they will lose revenue opportunities to their competitors for those consumers that are looking to purchase through a mobile channel, per Mr. Freed.

The second is when consumers are looking for a mobile application or site to be that research shopping companion, and they must turn to a competitor site, they introduce a big risk into being able to turn that shopper into a buyer.

Mr. Freed said to think of it as a shopper walking down the aisle of a retailer’s store with his or her shopping cart being pushed by a competitor.

“Do not forget what you learned on the Web—apply it to your mobile endeavors,” Mr. Freed said. “You cannot manage what you cannot measure—behavioral metrics are good but you need satisfaction metrics as well.

“Behavioral and financial metrics will tell you who is purchasing and how many are visiting, but without satisfaction data, you won’t know if you are meeting the needs of consumers,” he said. “So, in simple terms, measure your visitors’ satisfaction and take action to improve their experience.

“The satisfied consumer will be a long term, loyal and profitable consumer across all of your channels.”