Retailers can do better in pleasing the millions of mobile shoppers

Satisfaction with shopping via phone and tablet is lower than for the web.

Don Davis

Consumers are rapidly learning to use their smartphones and tablet computers to shop. But retailers’ mobile commerce sites and apps are not meeting consumer expectations, which means there are big opportunities to gain market share for merchants that do figure out how they’re falling short.

Making those arguments today at Internet Retailer’s Mobile Marketing & Commerce Forum 2012 in San Diego were executives from two companies that collect consumer data: Eric Feinberg, senior director of mobile media and entertainment at ForeSee, which surveys consumers on their satisfaction with mobile and online sites; and Hans Fredericks, vice president of mobile business development at comScore Inc., a company that tracks online and mobile consumer behavior.

As of June, 110.9 million mobile phone service subscribers were using smartphones, 47.4% of all mobile phone subscribers, and by the end of the year that should be more than half, Fredericks said. 25% of smartphone owners use their phones for shopping-related activities, and 9% of online sales now come from mobile devices, he added.

And consumers are willing to use more shopping-related features, he said. Among the 60% of smartphone owners who have never used a retailer’s mobile app to get alerts about deals based on location, 46% said they would be willing to get such notifications. And of the 62% who don’t check in or share their locations to get deals at stores, 55% would be willing to. That, he said, shows there are additional opportunities for retailers in mobile commerce.

Feinberg of ForeSee made that point even more strongly, presenting data indicating that consumers are far more satisfied when they shop on web sites than when they use mobile commerce sites or apps. Among 20 top retailers, all but one—Sears Holdings Corp.—got better marks from consumers for their web sites than mobile sites or apps. “The big finding is that mobile underperforms the traditional web across the board,” Feinberg said.

That was particularly true when consumers were surveyed about whether they had succeeded in accomplishing their task: 85% said yes for web sites but only 63% for mobile.

Feinberg also emphasized that retailers should not focus on how often consumers convert via mobile, as often they are using a phone or tablet to get information, planning to purchase via the web or store. ForeSee’s survey data show consumers’ score for likelihood to purchase in the mobile channel is only 74 out of 100, while likelihood of buying through another channel is 82.

Price is by no means the key in mobile, Feinberg added. ForeSee’s surveys show price is not a top driver for satisfaction in the mobile channel, trailing far behind merchandise and functionality. That shows retailers need to work on making it easier to find items and information on mobile devices. “We’re not allowing people to get to content as fast as they want,” he said. “Mobile underperforms the web. We need to collectively up our game.”




comScore, Eric Feinberg, ForeSee, Hans Fredericks, industry statistics, location-based deals, m-commerce, MMCF 2012, mobile commerce, mobile site design, online deals, Sears, smartphones