Top 20 store retailers’ mobile sites and apps fall short for some consumers

Speed, navigation and checkout can be problematic, Mobiquity finds.

Bill Siwicki

While the 2012 holiday season is showing that mobile commerce continues to grow steadily, 20 major bricks-and-mortar retail brands as a group still fall short of some consumers’ expectations for fast, well-designed and functional mobile commerce sites and apps, new research suggests.

“The Mobile Shopping Satisfaction Report,” a study commissioned by mobile site and app developer Mobiquity, finds that, of 20 major retailers that operate stores, Apple Inc., Best Buy Co. Inc. and Kohl’s Corp. ranked highest for satisfaction among consumers shopping via smartphones and tablets. They are followed, in order, by Target Corp., Walmart.com, CVS Caremark Corp., Sears Holdings Corp., Lowe’s Cos. Inc. and Macy’s Inc. However, the study also reveals that these retailers’ apps and mobile sites can be slow to load, challenging to navigate and error-prone at checkout.

Mobiquity commissioned Equation Research to survey 1,000 smartphone and tablet owners about their mobile shopping experiences during the last six months at these 20 bricks-and-mortar retailers.

The study finds that an unsatisfactory mobile shopping experience can impact brand loyalty and future revenue. 41% of smartphone owners and 43% of tablet owners say they would be less likely to shop at a retailer if they have a poor experience using the retailer’s mobile app or mobile site, the survey finds.

Among consumers who had unsatisfactory experiences, performance was the chief culprit. Half of survey respondents say smartphone apps were too slow and 67% say tablet apps were also too slow. Additionally, 65% say that m-commerce sites were slow, compared to 45% who say the same about sites accessed on a tablet.

Navigation was another issue. 35% of smartphone owners say smartphone apps were tough to navigate, compared with 24% of tablet owners who say tablet apps were difficult to navigate. 32% say navigation was problematic on smartphone mobile sites; 39% say the same for sites accessed on tablets. And, for 57% of tablet owners, the checkout process was either complicated or did not work.

Wal-Mart is the brand most browsed and shopped via mobile devices among major chains: 28% of smartphone owners and 32% of tablet owners had browsed Wal-Mart via mobile during the past six months. 23% used their smartphones to make a purchase from Wal-Mart, while 24% used their tablets to transact. Target and Best Buy ranked second and third for smartphone purchasing, while Best Buy and Apple ranked second and third for tablet purchasing.

After browsing retailers’ mobile apps and mobile sites on their smartphones, 32% of smartphone owners completed their purchase in-store, 27% via smartphone, 20% via tablet, 19% via personal computer, and 2% via phone or mail orders from catalogs, the study says. And after browsing retailers’ sites and apps on tablets, 33% of tablet owners went on to make a purchase on their tablet, 27% in-store, 21% on smartphones and 19% via personal computer.

Conversely, 41% purchased via their mobile devices after browsing in-store. 31% cite cheaper prices as their motivation, 19% say the product was not in-stock and 13% that lines at checkouts were too long.

“Today’s consumer has multiple paths to purchase and their mobile shopping experiences not only drive revenue through mobile channels but also influence in-store and online sales,” says Andrew Hiser, chief creative officer at Mobiquity. “It is the retailer’s prerogative to build seamless and consistent offline, online and mobile shopping experiences, so that wherever and however the customer chooses to shop, it is a positive experience. Because so much of customer loyalty is tied to the brand experience, it’s key—especially during the holiday season where so much attention is being paid to mobile commerce—that retailers deliver the best possible mobile shopping experience and ensure the sale.”

Mobiquity’s client roster has grown to more than 70 companies, the majority hailing from the Fortune 500, the company says. Clients include CVS, Boston Scientific, Fidelity Investments, MetLife, the New York Post, Putnam Investments and Weight Watchers International.


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