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Sears, Dell and Amazon deliver highest mobile satisfaction levels

January 3, 2012

Sears customers were most satisfied with its mobile performance

Mobile performance satisfaction levels started out high over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend but degraded as the holiday shopping season progressed, according to a recent report from Compuware Gomez.

While retailers took steps to make sure their mobile performance was strong over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, when traffic was expected to increase significantly, many were not prepared for high traffic levels throughout the remaining holiday shopping season. Compuware Gomez also reported that there were no specific outages on mobile Web sites this holiday season.

“Coming into the season, the expectation was that, with the increase in mobile usage, we would see a decrease in satisfaction and performance for the season,” said Jonathan Ranger, Gomez benchmark practice director at Compuware, Detroit, MI. “It appears that the top retailers did a pretty good job of adjusting to deal with the increase in traffic – at least initially.”

“I was a little surprised that retailers did as well as they did out of the gate in mobile,” he said. “They recognized the growth in mobile traffic and made adjustments accordingly.

“After Cyber Monday, retailers took a breath. They said, we made it through and we are going to adjust our sites to be a little more dense and that actually resulted in lower satisfaction scores.”

A good start
Overall, online sales were up this holiday season, driving in part by the success of retailers’ mobile shopping experiences, with mobile growth rates that were significantly higher in many cases than overall online growth albeit off a smaller base.

For the top 10 retailers, the average score for their mobile ecommerce Web sites was 43.74 on the Gomez Performance Satisfaction Index, a 7.78 percent improvement compared to the baseline.

The report covers the period between Nov. 21 and Dec. 25.

Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, Staples and Office all experienced a double digit percentage improvement in their Gomez Performance Satisfaction Index rating compared to the baseline.

Eight of the ten mobile retailers studied by Compuware Gomez had satisfaction scores that were better than baseline period in Oct.

The top ranking mobile ecommerce Web sites for Nov. 21 through Dec. 25 were Sears, Amazon and Dell.

“They were very consistent in their strategy to make sure end-users had effective access to their mobile pages,” Mr. Ranger said.

Tis the season
The mobile strategy for retailers early on was to assure that the mobile home pages were as efficient and light as reasonable to draw in perspective shoppers. Throughout Cyber Monday, mobile sites stayed stable, but after Cyber Monday mobile sites began to see a decrease in satisfaction levels.

Retailers were able to adjust for the increase in mobile traffic by decreasing page weight, including reducing the overall kilobyte size of the homepage, the number of objects on the page, the number of third-party connections and the number of hosts.

However, some retailers adjusted page weights up again after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. As a result, mobile performance satisfaction levels dropped dramatically on Dec. 5 and then again for a period lasting from December 16-22.

“If you compare the results from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, retailers did quite well but they did less well as the days went on,” Mr. Ranger said.

“The main things that we saw that provided evidence that retailers are not thinking about the holidays holistically is that while satisfaction scores were over 50 percent on Black Friday through the beginning of December, on or around Dec. 5, performance satisfaction scores dropped by 20 percent,” he said.

The results show that retailers need to treat the mobile holiday shopping period as a season-long event and not a series of days when traffic spikes.

Those retailers that did take the necessary steps throughout the holiday season were able to maximize their performance satisfaction levels.

“The holiday period isn’t just those four days – it is really all season long,” Mr. Ranger said.

“Consumers begin the shopping process early on and continue on through the end of the season,” he said. “Retailers need to recognize that their strategy should be consistent throughout that particular season.”

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

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