Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more!

QVC delivering strongest user experiences on mobile Web: Gomez

Retailers QVC and Newegg should be applauded for closing the performance gap that exists between the mobile and traditional PC Web worlds and for which consumers have diminishing tolerance and patience, according to Gomez.

Both QVC and Newegg retained their No. 1 and No. 2 positions, respectively, on Gomez’s U.S. Retail Mobile Site Performance Index since September. With the holidays right around the corner it is increasingly important for retailers to provide great mobile experiences for consumers.

Mobile Commerce Daily’s Giselle Tsirulnik interviewed Matt Poepsel, vice president of performance strategies at Gomez Inc., Lexington, MA, regarding the importance of closing the gap that exists between mobile and traditional PC Web. Here is what he had to say:

What trends are you seeing with regards to the mobile Web in retail? 
Retaining their No. 1 and No. 2 positions from September, QVC and Newegg are the top performers on Gomez’s U.S. Retail Mobile Site Performance Index for October. 

These two retailers continue to shave valuable milliseconds off their response times, with both companies delivering their best-ever response time average – across the four mobile platforms tested – of 2.29 seconds and 2.78 seconds respectively. 

QVC delivered a sub-two second response time on three of the four platforms tested: AT&T/iPhone, Sprint/HTC Hero and Verizon/Droid. Newegg delivered similar results on two of the four platforms: Sprint/HTC Hero and Verizon/ Droid. 

Companies like QVC and Newegg should be applauded for closing the performance gap which has long existed between the mobile and traditional PC web worlds – and for which consumers have diminishing tolerance and patience. 

A recent survey found movies, music, consumer electronics and books as the most popular gifts consumers use cell phones to shop for.

With QVC, Newegg and Amazon – which ranked No. 3 on the Mobile Site Performance Index – consistently among the top performers, these companies are focused on delivering the strongest possible user experiences on the mobile Web.

According to the NRF’s most recent data, the retail industry may expect to experience a 2.3 percent increase in sales revenues this holiday season. 

While a modest improvement, this would represent the largest increase in holiday sales in the past four years, and retailers will be battling for consumers’ slowly growing spending appetites. 

To win their share of potential revenue, retailers must deliver superior speed and reliability across all Web-based channels, including not just the mobile Web, but the traditional Web and mobile applications.

QVC and Newegg are formidable performance contenders in all of these categories which provides a strong position to capitalize on this year’s holiday season.

What trends are you seeing with regards to mobile applications?
Mobile applications offer marketers a valuable opportunity to connect with customers, often right at the point of sale, by pushing coupons, deals and incentives. 

However, the performance of mobile apps can be difficult to optimize, given their rich front-ends and data-intensive back-ends. 

Furthermore, if you’re going to adopt a mobile application strategy, the stakes for poor performance can be even higher than the mobile Web. 

The instantaneous nature of mobile applications means that an app running just split-seconds slower than a competitive app exposes a crucial window of opportunity for that competitor, even if the customer is within the supposedly “safe” walls of your physical store.

You also need to consider that mobile app users can post complaints and poor reviews in app stores, where they are exposed to everyone.

Retailers that have a large number of repeat shoppers can gain from a mobile applications strategy. 

However, retailers whose customers make purchases less frequently often have less to gain since customers may not go to the trouble of downloading an applications for a single or occasional product purchase.

Not surprisingly, retailers that fall into the former category, such as Target, Amazon and Walmart, are top performers in mobile applications speed. 

Their commitment to mobile app performance is paying dividends, right in time for the holidays.

Recommendations from Gomez
Never underestimate the importance of mobile Web performance, even if mobile commerce rates are still relatively low.

According to a recent survey conducted on behalf of the Mobile Marketing Association, only 13 percent of mobile holiday shoppers expect to use their mobile phone to purchase or pay for gifts this year. 

While some may interpret this as a sign that the mobile web is still in its infancy, the same survey found that 59 percent of mobile consumers (up from only 25 percent in 2009) plan to use their mobile phones to facilitate holiday shopping in some way, including searching for locations where gifts are sold and comparing prices between retailers. 

The mobile Web experience can have a huge influence on purchasing through other channels, and informing and enabling in-store transactions. 

Know what your customers do on your mobile site, and what they expect from your mobile site. 

When optimizing a mobile experience for speed, streamline site content and multi-step transactions based on what your customers do and expect on the site. 

For example, offer only the most popular revenue-generating applications and forgo those that customers aren’t apt to use on the go, like ratings and reviews. 

If you are finding a high rate of shopping cart abandonment among mobile customers, consider shortening check-outs and other critical paths through your mobile site.

Retail is one of several industries where consumers still rank speed as more important than functionality when determining the quality of the user experience. 

But remember that mobile Web speed, while important, is not everything. 

Streamlining can help maintain and optimize speed, but beware of going too far. 

If you start taking away too much content – product demos and catalogs, for example – from time-pressed consumers, this may have the adverse affect of irritating them, especially during the holiday season. Striking the critical balance between speed and functionality is the key.

Lastly, remember that the best mobile site performance in the world will be meaningless of your mobile site does not work well from a technical perspective, or is not integrated into a multi-channel strategy. 

Technical snafus that prevent customers from completing transactions and/or poor cross-channel integration which inhibits customers in talking to customer service reps, for example, can weigh just as heavily as speed in terms of whether a customer actually buys a product or not.

Final take
Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor of Mobile Commerce Daily