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Sephora, Crate and Barrel offer best-in-class mobile Web sites: report


Sephora’s mobile site experience stands out

Retailers’ mobile Web sites improved across all key indicators in the past year as merchants did a better job meeting customers’ expectations, according to a new report from the e-tailing group.

The group’s third annual Mobile Mystery Shopping Study found that the mobile shopping experience has shown strong improvements in delivering a consistent cross-channel experience, better merchandising and more promotional activity. The e-tailing group expects mobile sites to continue to continue to improve as retailers address the growing use of smartphones and tablets for shopping-related activities.

“The big news is the pace at which the merchants are embracing mobile and making tangible improvements to make a smoother, more efficient shopping experience,” said Lauren Freedman, president of the e-tailing group, Chicago.

“The most surprising finding was that the number of clicks to check-out is still high and that all retailers aren’t simplifying shopping experiences which is essential in the mobile environment,” she said.

Mobile customer experience improves
The e-tailing group audited 168 metrics on 50 mobile sites to create the Mobile Customer Experience Index showing how retailers’ mobile Web sites compare with others. The sites were scored on a 100-point scale based on metrics for five key pages, presence and execution of merchandising tactics and accessibility of customer service.

Key findings include that the number of retail mobile Web sites with a score of 80 doubled in the past year for a total of ten. Additionally, the average score increased from 64.56 to 71.53.

The top five performing mobile Web sites are American Eagle Outfitters with a score of 87, Sephora with 84.5, Crate and Barrel with 84, Nordstrom with 83.75 and REI with 83.

Some of the commonalities among retailers with the best mobile commerce experience include a focus on key page improvements, driving efficiencies from both a front-end and back-end perspective and making things faster for the customer and more accessible for the on-the-go shopper, per Ms. Freedman.

The mobile customer experience was also evaluated by category, with food/gifting and sporting goods experiencing the biggest increase in their score, up 27.73 percent and 20.73 percent, respectively.

The highest scoring categories were health and beauty, with a score of 76.81, up 11 percent; mass merchants with a score of 74.38, up 7.16 percent and accessories/shoes, with a score of 73.81, up 10 percent.

In terms of key performance indicators, the biggest improvement was seen in promotional tactical deployment, which increased 31 percent for a total score of 2.59 out of 10.

Average site usability increased 6 percent for a total score of 3.99. Cross-channel branding improved 16 percent for a total of 2.81 while merchandising tactical deployment increased 9 percent for a total of 2.42.

The overall score increased 20 percent for a total of 7.66.

More mobile features
Retailers are also doing a better job of enabling the kinds of features on their mobile Web sites that customers are looking for.

The report found that of the 44 sites with store locators, 82 percent enable geo-location, up from 54 percent last year.

Additionally, 50 percent of merchants now allow shoppers to locate desired products at local stores, with 64 percent enabling geo-location and 34 percent offering store pick-up for these items.

Some of the best practices for a strong mobile Web site customer experience that the e-tailing group recommends include using branded messaging, visual merchandising, promotional offers and rich content throughout a site, removing any obstacles that might prevent a shopper from completing a transaction, making shopping convenient from any page in the site and providing relevant refinement options for keyword searches.

Overall, the findings reflect a growing focus on the part of retailers to create more compelling shopping experiences via buying and back-end advancements, better merchandising and more promotional activity. The result is a mobile Web site experience that more closely mirrors what users encounter on a retailer’s traditional ecommerce site.

“Retailers are significantly investing and they are seeing that investment pay out,” Ms. Freedman said.

“I hear numbers as high as 20 percent of traffic coming by mobile and what’s great is that revenues are following close behind,” she said.

“Retailers are believers.”

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