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Retailers make little headway meeting shoppers’ mobile in-store expectations: Accenture

Accenture urges retailers to move quickly to improve their operational capabilities if they want to win customer loyalty and drive growth across all channels. Results from a survey of 750 U.S. consumers support this, with 45 percent saying they would like to receive real-time promotions sent to their phones or tablets yet, only 28 percent of retailers currently can deliver this service, according to a separate analysis of retailers.

One of the more surprising findings was that when asked which aspect of the shopping experience is really in need of an upgrade, 39 percent of our respondents ranked the physical store first,” said Dave Richards, global managing director of Accenture’s retail practice.

“This doesn’t simply involve what’s in stock in-store or having a quick checkout process; we’re seeing the seamless shopping experience really has yet to be mastered by retailers – and that means having fine-tuned mobile capabilities both in and out of the store for customers,” he said.

The mobile gap
The reports reveal a number of gaps between consumer expectations related to product offerings and pricing and the ability of retailers to deliver what customers want as they shop across a growing number of channels.

Findings include that only 42 percent of shoppers found it easy to complete a purchase using a mobile device.

Additionally, 39 percent named the physical store as the aspect of the shopping experience that is most in need of an upgrade. Last year, 40 percent of consumers pointed to the in-store experience as in need of enhancement, suggesting that retailers have not made much headway.

The second biggest improvement retailers need to make, according to 32 percent of consumers, is to enable the use of all three sales channels – physical store, online and mobile – in an integrated way.

With only 19 percent of retailers enabling smartphone users to start shopping on their devices and complete the cycle in-store, this further reinforces the notion of a gap between consumer expectations and retailer capabilities. Accenture also found that only 22 percent of retailers enable an integrated shopping experience that starts on a tablet and ends in a store.

“Fair advances are being made in the mobile arena, but shoppers are being vocal about what they want from retailers in mobile,” Mr. Richards said. “Only 42 percent of shoppers found it easy to complete a purchase using a mobile device – with no change from last year – which indicates that this is an area for improvement.

“It’s fair to say that the gap is currently wider than it should be, but retailers can and should put forward the appropriate resources and planning to ensure that mobile is more of a priority, in an effort to provide a seamless shopping experience,” he said.

Seamless retailing
The research also found that a number of mobile capabilities that can enhance seamless retailing for customers remain underdeveloped.

For example, while all of the U.S. retailers assessed as part of the analysis have a mobile-optimized Web site, only 53 percent have optimized their Web sites for tablets.

Other findings include that 39 percent of consumers said they would take advantage of the opportunity to earn loyalty points and save money on their purchases via mobile in-store offers.

In terms of specific enhancements needed to improve the in-store experience, 19 percent of consumers cited easy ordering of out-of-stock merchandise and 15 percent said free Wi-Fi. The survey found that 36 percent of consumers would order out-of-stock items via their mobile phone while in-store if they had that option.

The surveys also found growing consumer expectations for transparency and consistency in pricing, with 82 percent of respondents expecting a retailer’s prices to be the same in-store and online, up from 69 percent last year.

Accenture’s analysis of retailers reveals that 34 percent had the same pricing in-store and online for more than 80 percent of the items assessed.

The right context
The survey also provided insight into how consumers feel about shipping capabilities, with 57 percent willing to wait between four and seven days for free delivery.

At the same time, 26 percent would be willing to pay $10 or more for same-day delivery for an item they need urgently, 13 percent would pay extra for next-day delivery and 22 percent would consider paying $20 or more for delivery within two hours.

Scheduling capabilities are important to shoppers, with 55 percent indicating that scheduling a delivery from retailers is important. Additionally, 11 percent said they would be more interested in scheduling a pickup at a collection point and scheduling a delivery during peak hours than scheduling within a one-hour delivery window, which was cited by 4 percent.

Additional findings include that 20 percent of shoppers said they have increased the use of the pickup in-store option this year while 46 percent said that consolidating an order into one delivery rather than multiple deliveries is “extremely” or “very” important.

“Retailers need to place a special focus on their mobile capabilities, and make it so that consumers can shop just as easily on their mobile phone as they can by walking into a store,” Mr. Richards said. “We’re seeing many consumers using their mobile devices to check inventory – even while they’re on their way to the store – and they also want real-time promotions to be sent to their phones.

“This poses a great opportunity this year for retailers to step up their mobile offerings, which can result in an even greater connection between the consumer and retailer,” he said. “Ultimately, the context under which the consumer interacts with the retailer needs to be evaluated and carefully thought through, instead of simply replicating the online experience on mobile devices and platforms.”

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