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Smartphone users have high expectations for mobile retail experience: study

May 5, 2011

According to Demandware, retailers must prepare for mobile-savvy shoppers

A study by Demandware points to smartphone users’ increasingly high expectations of the mobile experiences that retailers provide them with. 

The results are based on a survey of 450 smartphone users. Overall, Demandware found that consumers use a variety of touch points and channels to inform their purchase decisions. 

 “Our research focuses on consumers who are innately drawn to the Web, accessing it several times per day for information, from multiple touch points and locations,” said Adam Forrest, product marketing manager at Demandware, Burlington, MA. 

“The research reveals that in comparison to traditional consumers, these ‘smart consumers’ have heightened expectations of retailers and the overall brand experience,” he said. 

Demandware is a company specializing in on-demand ecommerce. 

Key findings
The study found the consumers are increasingly sharing opinions and attitudes across Web and mobile-enabled social networks. 

To ensure customer satisfaction, retailers should provide holistic and exceptional experiences across all touch points. 

Retailers that not prepared to deliver on these expectations run the risk of alienating consumers and losing market share to competitors. 

The research shows that a bad experience in one channel does not just impact a consumer’s perception of that channel. 

Consumers associate a negative experience across the entire brand and 52 percent of Web-savvy consumers who have a bad experience online are less likely to shop from that brand again in an offline channel. 

Only 38 percent of traditional consumers shared the same attitude. 

When presented with a positive online shopping experience, consumers are more likely to reward retailers with brand loyalty, with 67 percent indicating their willingness to share a positive experience among their network. 

Conversely, consumers can be very unforgiving, with 72 percent compelled to share a negative online experience with friends and family, and 70 percent turning to a competitor as a result.  

Implications for retailers
With consumers ever vigilant of a brand’s performance in the mobile arena, retailers need to step up their game to ensure loyalty. 

“Smart consumers are fickle, and due to their connectivity to the Internet they have heightened expectations of brands,” Mr. Forrest said. 

Smart consumers, in comparison to traditional consumers, have a high propensity to evangelize good brand experiences and an even higher propensity to share poor brand experiences. 

Sixty-seven percent of respondents indicated their willingness to share a positive shopping experience among their network. 

Conversely, 72 percent are compelled to tell friends and family about a negative shopping experience. 

Smart consumers pose both an opportunity and threat to retailers based on their readiness to embrace all brand touch points and purchase across all channels. 

Retailers that embrace smart consumers have the opportunity for stronger brand loyalty by providing ubiquitous information across all shopping points. 

Consumers who shop through multiple touch points and channels are proven to be more valuable to retailers.  

In another Demandware survey with 192 retailers, 35 percent of respondents are going multichannel solely because the multichannel customer is worth more. An additional 29 percent of retailers are going multichannel because they believe that this is where the market is headed. 

Smart consumers require great shopping experiences led by consistent product, customer and order information across channels. 

If one customer touch point fails to meet these expectations, then there are not only channel implications, but the entire brand is compromised in the consumer’s mind. 

Web data about product materials, sizing guides, specifications and peer reviews help consumers make the right purchase decision and also help retailers minimize the potential returns. 

Sixty-nine percent of consumers trust Web data including product information and reviews more than information attained from a sales associate. 

Only 16 percent of consumers believe that store associates are the best resource for product information and 43 percent of consumers will trust a sales associate more if he is aided by a Web-enabled device. 

Retailers that fail to provide accurate and detailed information through the Web that is accessible across touch points run the risk consumers will use the Web and mobile phone to research and even purchase from their competitors. 

The numbers
At the geometric rate of smartphone adoption, Nielsen predicts that as early as the end of 2011 smartphones could out penetrate feature phones, resulting in the majority of consumers being smart consumers.  

Consumers are more often using mobile devices to inform their purchase decisions across touch points and have a strong impact on in-store purchasing behavior. 

Eighty-three percent of respondents said that the most valuable and useful in-store technology was their own mobile device.  

Retailers that do not embrace the smart consumer by providing seamless integrated experiences run the risk of watching their stores become showrooms for the competition.  

“With the barrier for consumers to shop elsewhere at its lowest, retailers need to ensure they deliver superior online, mobile and in-store experiences,” Mr. Forrest said. 

“In order to unify the customer experience for addressing the new requirements mandated by the smart consumer, retailers need to leverage the ecommerce platform as the central hub for customer, product, order, and inventory data across all sales channels,” he said.

Final Take
Mackenzie Allison is the associate reporter at Mobile Commerce Daily

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