June 24, 2013, 12:26 PM

Vast majority of smartphone shoppers encounter problems

30% of these consumers will never return to a problematic retail site, Harris finds.

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71% of U.S. smartphone owners say they use their devices to shop, and among smartphone shoppers, 88% have experienced negative issues, a new survey of 2,085 U.S. smartphone users from Harris Interactive says.

What’s even more alarming for retailers, 30% of smartphone shoppers who have experienced negative issues say they will never return to that retailer’s site, finds the survey, which Harris conducted on behalf of mobile commerce technology provider Skava. Furthermore, 29% of smartphone owners who experienced problems claimed it would be six months or more before giving a retailer’s web site a second chance on mobile, while 33% would immediately defect to a competitor and 36% would abandon the purchase altogether after a sub-optimal experience, Harris finds.

What could be driving at least part of the problem is retailers that do not offer m-commerce sites or responsive web design sites that tailor content the purchase process to smartphones. Trying to shop a full-blown e-commerce web site on the tiny screen of a smartphone is difficult at best. 64% of the merchants in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide offer m-commerce sites and/or apps, and 39% of the merchants in the Internet Retailer Second 500 Guide offer m-commerce sites and/or apps.

51% of smartphone owners who’ve experienced negative issues say retailers’ sites are harder to navigate and use on a mobile device than on a desktop, the survey says. Other difficulties these consumers cite include:

  • Product images are too small to make a buying decision (46%).
  • Concerns over security on their smartphone (41%).
  • Checkout process is painful (26%).

Survey respondents could select “Other” and fill in a negative issue they experienced while shopping on their smartphones. A sampling of these findings reveals concerns over data usage costs, difficulties in adding coupon codes, and slow site speed.

“The sudden rise in the number of visitors accessing retailers’ web sites from mobile took many retailers by surprise and they quickly created a mobile web site as a first response, but the initial bounce rates were high and conversion rates low, leaving many retailers thinking that people didn’t have an appetite to buy from mobile,” says Arish Ali, Skava co-founder and president. “It isn’t just about putting a mobile web site out there—it is about building an experience that is easy for customers to use and takes into consideration the unique attributes of mobile devices. Achieving significant conversion rates on mobile is possible. Amazon, a constant threat to traditional retailers, generated $4 billion in sales through mobile last year.”

The results of this national survey show many retailers are still failing to meet their customers’ mobile commerce expectations, Ali says, and this creates a real threat of losing customers and market share to competitors who make it easy to shop on mobile devices.

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