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Apple store, Amazon offer best mobile retail experience: ForeSee Results

January 13, 2012


The Apple store app

The Apple store and Amazon provide a significantly more satisfying mobile experience compared with other retailers, according to a new report from customer experience analytics firm Foresee Results.

On the study’s 100-point scale, Apple comes in first place for its mobile customer experience with a score of 85 while Amazon was close behind at 84. However, the next highest score was a distant 78 for Dell, in part because Apple and Amazon have done a better job of trimming down the mobile experience while still providing much of the same functionality found on their Web sites.

“It’s probably no surprise, but mobile continues to be a growing part of consumers interaction with retailers, and it’s only going to get bigger,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of Foresee Results, Ann Arbor, MI.

“There is a lot of room for improvement and there are a lot of complexities and variables with mobile commerce, from various operating systems to device and screen size,” he said. “It’s not as simple as the early days of the Web when everyone was building for Internet Explorer.

“Now you’ve got multiple OS’s, phones and tablets, and various screen sizes, all which affect the user experience.  You need to apply the same concepts on mobile as you do on the Web, but it’s a very different platform. 

Navigation, functionality disappoint
The strength of mobile sales and traffic over the recent holiday period suggest mobile is here to stay and that the retailers who can make an early and strong impression with consumers could have a significant advantage.

Measuring customer satisfaction levels for mobile sites, apps and in the store is key for retailers who want to compete in the mobile space because it can be an important indicator of future shopping behavior across channels. According to ForeSee Results, shoppers who are highly satisfied with their mobile experience are 54 percent more likely to consider that retailer the next time they want to make a similar purchase and twice as likely to buy from the retailer’s mobile channel again.

Some of the more common ways that mobile experiences are disappointing consumers include navigation and functionality.

“In relative terms, you’re working with too small screen size for a large range of products,” Mr. Freed said. “As for functionality, you have more of it on a traditional Web site compared to what you can get via a mobile browser on a much smaller screen.”

In general, retailers received higher satisfaction scores for their traditional Web sites than for their mobile versions.  

“The most surprising finding is the fact that all of these companies—except Apple—had higher satisfaction on their traditional Web sites than on mobile,” Mr. Freed said. “Consumer expectations of the mobile experience are shaped in part by their experience on the traditional Web.”

Following Apple, Amazon and Dell in mobile customer satisfaction are Netflix and eBay, which both have a score of 77. Next areBest Buy and Staples with a score of 76 and Avon, Barnes and Noble, Home Depot and Victoria’s Secret, which each have a score of 75.

Additionally ,Toys R Us has a mobile customer satisfaction score of 74, Blockbuster 73, Target and Walmart 72 and Sears 71.

Start measuring
The study also points to the growing use of mobile for a variety of shopping purposes, with 38 percent of online shoppers saying they have used their phone to access a retailer’s Web site, up from 33 percent last year. An additional 25 percent indicated they may access retail Web sites or mobile apps by phone in the future.

Comparing prices was a popular activity with 24 percent of shoppers using their phones to look at competitor Web sites while in a physical store while 36 percent used their phones to visit the store’s own Web site or app.

Online shoppers were most likely to use their mobile phones to research products, with 34 percent engaging in research via mobile. Only 15 percent bought directly from their mobile phones, but this number is up from 11 percent last year.

This is the first time Foresee has reported company-level satisfaction scores for mobile apps and Web sites. The report is based on data collected from visitors to the top 40 retail Web sites.

It is important for retailers to measure customer satisfaction with mobile so they can begin to improve it.

“The prescription will be different for each retailer, but you want to identify the things that are changing the way consumers behave in the future,” Mr. Freed said. “By improving satisfaction, you can improve loyalty, return visits, and recommendations.

“So identify what are the key drivers of the consumer experience, measure, and take action,” he said. “It’s a continuous process because consumers’ expectations are always evolving.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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