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Mobile Web beats apps for detail-oriented shoppers: report

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January 30, 2015

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Mobile Web is becoming more popular

As shoppers become increasingly comfortable on mobile, they are demanding more detailed experiences, leading to a growing preference for retailers’ mobile Web sites over applications, according to a new report from Siteworx.

Retailers that do not offer detail-oriented mobile Web sites are at risk of losing commerce, as 63 percent of consumers are more likely to shop using a site rather than a mobile application. The findings suggest investing in an all-encompassing mobile site is imperative for retailers seeking to retain significant market share, as more shoppers are using mobile to research potential purchases and read reviews.

“Data reveals complex buyer journeys that demand retailers constantly monitor buyer behaviors in order to adjust experiences and processes that better engage with consumers in the moment,” said Patricia Mejia, chief marketing officer of Siteworx, Reston, VA.

“Waterfall approaches are not sufficient when it comes to anticipating and predicting how consumers will change the way they use mobile to make purchases.”

Changing trends
While showrooming and mobile applications were two top strategies of choice for retailers in previous years, Siteworx has discovered that mobile shopping behaviors are changing rapidly, prompting brands to constantly deliver new mobile functions so that all shoppers’ needs can be met.

Consumer interest in mobile apps is on the decline, with the rate of survey participants claiming they prefer to shop via an app over a mobile site falling to 37 percent.

However, if a brand is adamant about continuing to invest in its mobile app, speed is a priority.

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Users appreciate the details found on mobile sites

When consumers were asked what feature would prompt them to download a retailer’s mobile app this past holiday season, 32 percent tapped speediness over the Web site as a top priority. Twenty percent said special in-app deals were the main draw for downloading, while 24 percent could be swayed by a streamlined checkout process.

“Speed is king,” Ms. Mejia said. “Web site and application response times are paramount, and while they are what happens in the background, they have a tremendous impact on experience and conversions.

“This is something that retailers can’t take their eye off even as they focus on the customer-facing aspects of the experience. It’s complex but equally as important.”

Mobile device users’ tendency to browse on 3G networks is partially to blame for the decline of Web site speed.

Piggybacking on the rise
The survey discovered that device “piggybacking” during customers’ paths to purchase is on the rise, as results suggested buyers prefer to compare prices on desktop devices, due to the easy browsing process, and then purchase items in bricks-and-mortar locations or on smartphones.

This past holiday season, 41 percent of shoppers bought their gifts in-store, while 47 percent and 26 percent relied on laptops and smartphones for purchasing, respectively.

Siteworx identified several possible shopper journeys for marketers to keep in consideration as they develop mobile strategies for 2015. One set of buyers may prefer searching for items on desktop, but be swayed to purchase in-store with a mobile coupon.

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Reading product views and viewing style options are two perks of mobile sites

Another set might become interested in a product in a bricks-and-mortar location but not purchase due to high price, leading the consumer to set up a text alert for sales and buy the item on a tablet or smartphone when the price lowers.

Shopping is now truly an omnichannel experience, so brands must work to optimize all of their purchasing options to fit customers’ expectations. More importantly, all channels must work cohesively with each other.

The most frequently performed mobile activity in stores was deemed to be checking product reviews, proving that brands need to offer this feature on their mobile sites or apps. Conversely, consumers were not as interested in using their devices to locate sale prices for retailers to match, with a 50 percent decline in this activity from 2013 to 2014.

The 2014 holiday season was strong on mobile, and was especially instrumental in driving customer traffic to brands’ Web sites.

Ultimately, brands must look at mobile in the context of the digital shopping ecosystem. Each branch of the ecosystem can function independently, but works best in conjunction with the others.

“Retailers need to optimize across the end-to-end digital experience because consumers are using virtually all channels in tandem today,” Ms. Mejia said.

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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Alex Samuely is staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York. Reach her at alex@mobilemarketer.com.

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