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Easy check-out is mobile shoppers’ No. 1 priority: panel

BOSTON – Consumers browsing mobile sites and apps during a usability lab at’s Annual Summit encountered a variety of challenges that prevented them from checking out. The labs highlighted the need for retailers to make their mobile sites and applications easy to use.

The audience for the “Live Labs with Phil Terry” session watched live video depicting how four different consumers interacted with several brands via their smartphones. In one case, the user wanted to go to the desktop site for a brand when the mobile site did not give her the information she was looking for.

“We saw this early on with the Web – people went back to the store because they didn’t trust what they saw on the Web site,” said Phil Terry, CEO of Creative Good, Columbus, OH.

“The same thing is happening in mobile, with people going back to the Web site because they don’t trust what they see on mobile,” he said.

Live labs
The labs highlighted the importance of listening to and watching what consumers do on a mobile site or application in order to be able to deliver an easy-to-use experience.

“There are a small number of companies doing something completely different,” Mr. Terry said. “One of the things that all of these companies have in common is that the senior team gets out from behind the desk to observe customers interacting with their products and services,” said.

For the labs, Creative Good recruited mobile users who had made a purchase via mobile previously.

The first user wanted to buy tickets from Boston’s Berklee Performance Center via her smartphone.

One of the challenges she encountered was figuring out why tickets for a particular performance were not available.

The user said she would probably go to the desktop site for the organization to learn more.

While the ticket availability probably would not be any different on the desktop site, she felt that there might be some kind of a glitch with the mobile site.

The user preferred shopping for a hard-to-find object such as instant film on the brand site for The Impossible Project, which has reengineered how to make Polaroid film, instead of on Amazon even though the prices are slightly better.

The user’s preference stems from the fact that she can find more information about the product on The Impossible Project’s site.

On Amazon’s site, the user was not able to expand an image of the product enough to be able to read what was printed on the packaging.

Now that she knows which product she needs, she might go to Amazon in the future because the price is slightly less, the user said.

A different mobile shopper said almost everything she does on mobile is triggered by a sale alert.

She clicked through a special offer from ProFlowers that was in her email inbox and was taken to a page with product suggestions for her.

After she picked an item and wanted to check out, she was presented with a page with additional offers. The user recognized this as an attempt to get her to spend more and bypassed it.

The user spent quite a bit of time trying to type in a message that would appear on a card accompanying the flowers.

One of the features singled out by the user as very helpful was the ability to save multiple addresses for the different people that she sends flowers to.

However, having to remember her password before being able to make a purchase was frustrating.

The user also quickly browsed sites for Children’s Place, Aeropostale and others.

“It was interesting how little the lack of an optimized site is an obstacle,” Mr. Terry said. “There were a lot of obstacles in a couple of these sites that were making it hard to checkout – you could sense her frustration.”

Another user said she always clicks on the emails she receives from Banana Republic and really likes the brand’s mobile site because it is structured like an app.

Shopping applications from Home Depot and Lowe’s were used by another consumer who was looking for a new refrigerator.

The user said he had never used a mobile bar code and was not aware that QR code scanners are available in app stores.

The user believe that bar code scanner are used when shopping in a different brand’s store to see what the price is for an item he is interested in at the retailer whose app he is using.

Additionally, the user was not sure how to use QR codes.

“I’ve never used a QR scanner — I think it brings you to a Web site,” the user said.

Final Take
Robert Glover is manager of IT for Auto Zone, Memphis, TN