January 12, 2012, 8:57 AM

Shoppers are pretty satisfied with large e-retailers’ mobile sites and apps

ForeSee releases its first study of consumer satisfaction with mobile retail sites and apps.

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A computer hardware and software maker topped the list.

Mobile shoppers are more satisfied with m-commerce sites and apps than consumers in general are with mobile sites from various industries, and satisfied mobile shoppers are quite likely to buy through a retailer’s mobile commerce site or app again, finds online satisfaction research firm ForeSee.

Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. topped the satisfaction list of 16 retailers with m-commerce sites and/or mobile apps that ForeSee measured. Apple scored 85 out of 100 and Amazon.com 84. By comparison, Apple’s desktop web site scored 83 and Amazon’s 88.

The 16 merchants come from a ForeSee study of the top 40 e-retailers in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. This is the first time ForeSee was able to obtain statistically significant data on mobile commerce.

Following are the 14 other merchants, their mobile site and/or app satisfaction scores, and their desktop site satisfaction scores, respectively: Dell Inc., 78, 80; Netflix Inc., 77, 79; eBay Inc., 77, 80; Best Buy Co. Inc., 76, 78; Staples Inc., 76, 78; Avon Products Inc., 75, 83; Barnes & Noble Inc., 75, 81; The Home Depot Inc., 75,78; Victoria’s Secret Direct, 75, 81; Toys ‘R’ Us Inc., 74, 75; Blockbuster Inc., 73, 75; Target Corp., 72, 76; Walmart.com, 72, 79; and Sears Holdings Corp., 71, 75.

The average satisfaction for the 16 companies is 76. However, in a monthly benchmark that ForeSee maintains with a much broader range of companies of all sizes across multiple industries, the average score for a mobile experience is 67. “Therefore, being at the bottom of this [e-retailer] list does not mean a subpar performance since everyone on this list outperforms the average of 67,” the ForeSee survey report notes.

While generally m-commerce scores lag behind e-commerce scores, it’s still early for mobile commerce, the firm says.

“The largest gaps between web satisfaction and mobile satisfaction are for Avon, with a gap of eight points, and Walmart.com, with a gap of seven points,” the report notes. “A large gap indicates that customer needs are not being met nearly as well in the mobile experience as they are online. Unless companies improve their mobile shopping capabilities, this gap is likely to become more of a problem as more of the population becomes mobile-savvy and expectations for the mobile experience rise.”

Walmart.com has faith in its mobile commerce site and apps, and points out that its apps are new and as a result may require an adjustment period.

“We just launched Wal-Mart’s first iPad app in November and it was among the top downloaded apps following its introduction,” a spokesman says. “Our updated iPhone app is one of the first to offer a unique set of shopping list features, such as voice, real-time budgeting tools, access to coupons and in-store aisle location. We recognize there may be a ramp-up period, as with any new product introduction, and continue to be very pleased by the strong customer response to both apps.”

Good experiences with mobile sites and apps have critical cross-channel impact, ForeSee says. Mobile shoppers who are highly satisfied with their mobile experience report being 54% more likely to consider that company the next time they want to make a similar purchase and twice as likely to buy from the retailer’s mobile channel again, the firm finds.

“If retailers are going to compete and differentiate with mobile services in 2012, it is critical that they are able to measure their success in creating a satisfying customer experience,” write Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee, and Eric Feinberg, director of mobile markets, in the survey report. “Whether on a web site, in a store, or on a mobile-optimized web site or mobile app, customer satisfaction is the result of meeting a customer’s needs and expectations. The principles are the same regardless of the customer touch point.”

From a survey of consumers from not just the 16 merchants but all 40 e-retailers, ForeSee found that 38% have used a mobile phone to access a retailer’s web site, mobile site or mobile app. 36% have not and don’t plan to, 25% have not but might, and 1% was not sure.

Of mobile shoppers, 15% made purchases from a mobile phone this holiday season, ForeSee finds. 65% accessed a store’s m-commerce or e-commerce site, 43% accessed a competitor’s web site while shopping inside a store, 26% accessed a shopping comparison web site, 21% accessed a store’s mobile app, and 14% accessed a competitor’s mobile app while in a store.

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