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Retailers failing to deliver consumers’ mobile expectations: study

June 9, 2011

With consumers using multiple digital touch points to interact with brands, a new study reveals that retailers are not prepared to meet the demands of their Web-savvy customers.

The study, which was conducted by ecommerce technology company Demandware, highlights a gap between the digital platforms that retailers are using and the way that customers expect to interact with brands. Twenty-three percent of the 454 consumer participants in the study said that they currently used shopping applications, and 50 percent said they planned to in the future.

“There are certainly some brands that are meeting and exceeding consumers’ expectations but, on the whole, this data suggests that brands aren’t addressing consumers’ current demands,” said James Driscoll, vice president of marketing for Demandware, Burlington, MA.

The report shows that consumers have adapted to mobile devices and have integrated the technology into their everyday lives.

However, the findings are also proof that retailers are not ready to incorporate the new technology into their business. Of the 192 retailers that participated, 118 said they have enabled a mobile app or Web site.

Code language
Fifty-four percent of consumers in the study said that they would like to shop directly from bar codes and smart tags in magazines, but only 12 percent of retailers surveyed offer it.

Additionally, 29 percent of retailers say that they offer apps that let consumers check in-store product availability.

However, 38 percent of consumers say that they already use apps for in-store shopping, and 52 percent expect to do it in the future.

“Our findings illustrate consumers’ growing interests in using mobile devices to scan smart tags and bar codes, compare prices in-store, make purchases, read customer reviews and add products to wish lists,” Mr. Driscoll said.

“A mobile-enabled site is the foundation for all of those experiences and almost 40 percent of the retailers surveyed haven’t even taken that step,” he said.

Retailers need to shift their thinking around commerce from the traditional channel-centric approach to a consumer-centric orientation in which the Web is at the center of the experience, Mr. Driscoll said.

“Today’s consumers shop with more power, knowledge and skill than ever before, and they expect consistently great brand experiences,” Mr. Driscoll said.

“Retailers should take the time to truly define their brand and critically examine if it is being delivered each and every time a consumer comes in contact with the brand,” he said.

Fear cast
In the study, 89 percent of retailers recognized that they needed to boost their multichannel platforms, which Mr. Driscoll said is a good sign.

However, only 50 percent of retailers believed that their businesses needed drastic changes. Mr. Driscoll is afraid companies are underestimating the new consumer multichannel capabilities.

“Consumers have only been interacting with brands on their mobile phones for a few years,” Mr. Driscoll said.

“Now, tablet devices have come onto the scene,” he said.

Retailers have to be prepared for the next Web-enabled device that is going to change the way their consumers interact with their brand. They have to stop thinking solely about transactions and focus on the overall customer experience.”

“Retailers must embrace this evolution, and make significant changes to catch up and prepare for future demands. If they don’t, they run the risk of being left behind.”

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