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Mobile Web is key to in-store shopping experience: Gomez

July 15, 2010

walmart1Retailers need to understand that the mobile Web can augment the in-store shopping experience as many consumers check and compare competitors’ products and prices as they actually peruse store aisles and contemplate purchases.

This was a key finding in Compuware Gomez Mobile Benchmark Review of May 2010.

Mobile Commerce Daily interviewed Matt Poepsel, vice president of performance strategies at Gomez. Here is what he said:

What is this month’s data showing at a high level — what common thread (if any) is running throughout the airlines, banks, retail and search companies mobile Web performance?
For May, retail companies overall continued to outperform the airline, banking and search industries. 

Three retailers (Walmart, Amazon and QVC) had an impressive sub-three second mobile Web response time. Walmart in particular had a razor-fast speed of 2.121 seconds. 

In contrast, the best performers across the other industries clocked speeds of approximately 3.3 – 3.4 seconds. 

The retailers’ edge is a result of the investments they are making in the mobile Web. 

A recent joint study between Forrester Research and NRF’s shows that a vast majority of online retailers either already have or are developing a mobile strategy. 

Retailers understand how the mobile Web can augment the in-store shopping experience – for example, enabling consumers to check and compare competitors’ products and prices as they actually peruse store aisles and contemplate purchases. 

Retailers also recognize the mobile Web as a cornerstone of a complete multichannel strategy, one that will help them stay competitive and grow market share.

What is unusual for this particular tracking period?
Several companies have made tremendous strides in the area of consistency, meaning they deviate very little in terms of the quality of the mobile Web experience they deliver to end-users, whether they are across the street or across the world. 

This is so important for global businesses, because from the perspective of building customer satisfaction, revenue and brand, delivering stellar performance for one customer segment means little if another critical segment experiences poor performance. 

For example, in mobile retail, Amazon demonstrated only a slight 1.8 seconds variance – down from 2.3 seconds last month – between their fastest and slowest end-user speeds. 

This enabled Amazon to surpass the previous month’s mobile retail consistency leader, Walmart, which slipped from 1.8 seconds variance last month to almost 2 seconds this month. 

In mobile search, Amazon also delivered exceptional performance consistency with only 1.7 seconds variance, also down from 2.3 seconds last month. 

Unfortunately, Amazon’s superior mobile search performance was somewhat of an anomaly this month, with the mobile search category as a whole logging an average 8.4 second response time! 

How will this effect banks/airlines/search companies’ interactions with customers and end-users?
First, poor performance consistency may leave companies vulnerable to a negative customer backlash that’s apt to play out in social media channels. 

It is often said that bad news spreads faster than good news, so no matter how strong your performance may be for one customer segment, it is the customers on the opposite end of the spectrum that will be looking to vent. 

Second, as we have emphasized in the past, the companies with the strongest mobile Web performance are shaping user expectations across all the websites they encounter. 

As retailers forge ahead in setting new performance standards, airlines, banks and search companies may find themselves facing more demanding end-users.

Recommendations from Gomez (based on the data)?
Mobile search companies should seize the chance to improve download speeds. 

With 8.4 seconds as the average, there is tremendous opportunity for improvement, and if you can deliver faster speeds than the competition, you can be sure to attract competitors’ traffic.

All companies must focus on delivering consistently strong mobile Web experiences to all their critical end-user segments around the world. 

Banking and search companies take note: while mobile Web performance levels deviated by approximately four seconds in airlines and retail, banking had a deviation of almost six seconds while search had almost eight seconds.

The key is to understand performance from the true user perspective; proactively identify those users experiencing a performance issue like a slow-down; and then isolate and resolve the performance-impacting “culprits” in the respective mobile Web application delivery chain, including ISPs, carriers and devices.

Retail companies should continue to maintain exceptional performance in the months leading up to the holiday season. 

Strong mobile Web performance not only helps enrich the in-store shopping experience, but it also supports a comprehensive “One Web” strategy which helps retailers maximize overall – in-store and online – holiday season performance. 

This will be especially important this year, as the economy continues to constrain consumer spending.

Lastly, airlines, banking and search companies should consider benchmarking their performance against not just their respective industry counterparts, but against overall Web industry leaders like Amazon and Walmart. 

By emulating the mobile Web performance of these leaders, companies across the board can reduce the risk of giving end-users a reason to switch to a competitor.

Final take

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Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor at Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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