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Home Depot leads mobile retail with in-app chat, in-store services: report

The Home Depot is the number one mobile retailer in 2015 thanks to the chain’s strong application design and in-store services, according to a report released today by Episerver.

The report, Episerver Mobile Commerce Report 2015, found that even ecommerce giant Amazon is unable to compete with The Home Depot’s seamless in-app chat and in-store collection services. Other areas of strength displayed by the chain include intuitive search, navigation and content marketing features in its app.

“Small screens are the go-to device – smartphones generated more sales than tablets on Black Friday,” said David Bowen, product manager at Episerver. “The capabilities of smartphones has lead to them becoming the primary device for users to research and purchase.

“[The most surprising finding was that] 39 percent of Americans list ‘physical stores’ as one of their top three locations to browse, showing the importance of crossover experiences,” he said.

Apple’s winning mobile site
One area where The Home Depot stumbles is its mobile Web site, where a lack of social and video integration lost it points.

Apple takes the award for best mobile Web site, an interesting finding given that the retailer did not make its site mobile-friendly until late 2014.

Episerver’s report praises Apple’s site for responsively adapting to any mobile or tablet screen without removing significant functionality. The site also avoids numerous sub-menus and, instead, organizes products into six simple categories.

The mobile site also benefits from a strong yet simple use of HTML5 animation to enhance design and improve the user experience.

Android tablet apps lacking
The top five mobile retailers, as determined by Episerver, are: The Home Depot,, Safeway, Target and Walgreens.

Overall, U.S. retailers scored particularly high compared to five other regions for the quality of their mobile applications across both Android and iPhone.

One area where U.S. retailers are lacking compared to other regions is with Android tablet apps, with very few retailers developing a dedicated tablet app.

Episerver also reviewed which mobile triggers work best by region, with consumers in the U.S. most likely to respond to QR/NFC touch points and coupons.

In the U.S. “speed and convenience” was cited by 46 percent of consumers surveyed as the top reason why they browse products on a mobile device and 63 percent said they would abandon a mobile site if it proves difficult to access.

Additionally, 39 percent of U.S. respondents listed “physical stores” as one of their top three locations to browse a mobile device.

According to the research, U.S. consumers are most likely to access mobile Web sites from their home, with 68 percent ranking this location as the place they most commonly browse their smartphone.

The Home Depot’s winning mobile strategy will likely help it drive sales during the holiday season and into next year.

In September, the Home Depot’s mobile-first focus won the brand the top spot among retailers offering digital gift cards, according to a report from CashStar and Retail Systems Research (see story).

In the spring, The Home Depot reported strong in-store traffic and sales as well as rising customer service scores, a positive trend attributed, in part, to the use of in-store mobile devices by store associates (see story).

“Mobile is becoming the dominant route to research and purchase,” Mr. Bowen said. “The customer must be in the center of your omnichannel strategy.

“Ensure you have a connected approach to technology; landing the customer at your site or app and providing further product info, customer reviews and instant in-store offers to incent the customer to convert to a sale during that experience,” he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York