Shopping Goes Mobile

Customer experience analytics firm ForeSee Results has released the findings of a study showing that consumers in the UK are using mobile phones more than ever for retail purposes.
As part of a study of nearly 10,000 visitors to the biggest e-retail websites in the UK (determined by traffic, according to IMRG), ForeSee Results used a patented methodology created at the University of Michigan to examine how mobile shopping trends during the holiday season could have year-long implications. ForeSee says the methodology can show how customers’ satisfaction with mobile websites and applications impacts their future purchase intent, loyalty, and recommendations across all channels.

The study found that shoppers are using mobile phones to access websites and apps more than ever before. 32 per cent of respondents have used their mobile phone to access a retailer website, and an additional 32 per cent indicated they plan to access retailer websites or mobile apps by phone in the future.

“It looks like nearly two-thirds of all shoppers in the UK will soon be using their mobile phones for retail purposes if they aren’t already,” saysKevin Ertell, vice president of retail strategy at ForeSee Results and author of the report. “Any retailer not actively working to develop, measure, and refine its mobile experience is leaving money on the table for competitors.”

The study also found that mobile purchase behaviour is exploding. 8 per cent of web shoppers reported having made a purchase from their phones this Christmas season, compared to only 2 per cent at this time last year. The 8 per cent figure lags the US, but only by a little; 11 per cent of American shoppers have bought something on their mobile phone.

But there’s more to it than transactions; shoppers use their mobile phones for a variety of tasks. 47 per cent of shoppers who used it for retail purposes did so to compare price information. Shoppers also used their phones to compare different products (34 per cent), to look up product specifications (20 per cent), and to view product reviews (15 per cent). 

Shoppers also use their mobile phones to look at competitor websites, the study reveals. While in physical stores, 67 per cent of mobile shoppers used their phones to visit the store’s own website, but 26 per cent used their phones to access a competitor’s website. This proportion is up substantially from 2009, when only 17 per cent of mobile shoppers accessed a competitor’s site from within a store.
Despite the increased use of mobile as part of the shopping process, however, traditional websites satisfy shoppers more than mobile sites and apps. In general, shoppers rate their satisfaction with retail websites significantly higher (72 on the study’s 100-point scale) than their satisfaction with mobile experiences, including apps and mobiles (67). A similar score gap is present in the US, although scores for both websites (78) and mobile experiences (75) were higher.

“It’s true that mobile sites have far less maturity than traditional e-retail websites, but I’m not sure that matters to consumers,” says Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results. “Their expectations are being set by the best websites and the best mobile experiences. They aren’t going to have a lot of patience for excuses about the challenges that mobile shopping presents when it comes to design and usability. Retailers in both the US and the UK need to step up their game in this area.”

Finally, the report found that good experiences with mobile sites and apps have critical cross-channel impact. Shoppers who are highly satisfied with a mobile experience say they are 32 per cent more likely to buy from that retailer online and 31 per cent more likely to buy offline, as well as being far more likely to return to the main website, recommend it, and be loyal to the brand. “It’s another reminder and a nice way to quantify that every customer touch point matters to overall loyalty and sales,” says Ertell. “Retailers cannot afford to ignore or even neglect the mobile experience and assume it won’t hurt their traditional online or in-store business.”
The report, together with a similar report looking at US mobile shopping trends, is available for free download here.