Opportunities to Improve Mobile Shopping Experience

Mobile commerce opens the door to tremendous new opportunities for retailers. Worldwide mobile sales will grow to 163 billion dollars by 2015, according to ABI Research. That said, the buzz about mobile shopping this holiday season shows that online retailers still have much work to do in order to provide a mobile experience that meets the high expectations of their consumers.

In order to gauge the realities of the mobile shopping experience, Tealeaf commissioned Crimson Hexagon to perform social media sentiment analysis about mobile commerce with the top 35 mobile retailers worldwide. The findings show that 58 percent of the comments about mobile shopping were positive, including such gems as:

Little does mom know as she's driving naming off movies she'd like to have on DVD, I'm on the _____ App ordering them for Xmas

I love this _____ app shopping\sales\updates... nice nice nice

I'm in love with the _____ app. Making Christmas shopping sooo easy

Many of these positive comments were about time savings and instant deals, which is understandable given mobile shoppers' ability to shop from anywhere, anytime. However, despite these conveniences, less than a fifth of the comments stated mobile sites and apps were actually easy to use.

Experience the Difference

Even for those top retailers in the study, which account for the majority of the sales to mobile devices, 41 percent of the consumer comments showed some level of frustration. More than half of these negative comments fell into the category of "customer struggle"—the issues that users encounter as they try to complete a transaction.

Any number of things can cause customers to abandon —poorly designed apps, search functionality issues, forms that are hard to complete from a mobile device, etc. While online struggle doesn't always keep consumers from buying, it has proven to discourage them from returning. What's potentially more harmful, however, is that struggling shoppers broadcast their dissatisfaction to a widespread audience. Here are some colorful examples— while I've left the retailers' names out, consumers rarely do:

Lord, shopping on the _____ website is painful. And the app is even worse. Oh _____, why have you failed me *weeps*

Hey _____, would be nice if your app and website actually worked. Can't select colors and only 1/2 my choices hit the cart :(

Mobile shoppers have extremely high expectations of mobile transactions. A study by Harris Interactive earlier this year showed that 85 percent of adults who have completed a transaction using a mobile device expect the experience to be better than when using a desktop computer.

The Stakes are High

Opportunities abound for retailers who invest in their mobile channels, but they must be cautious to avoid doing more harm than good. Retailers that rush to develop a mobile app or site risk poor ratings and low adoption– harming them in the long run. In addition, delivering poor mobile experience can have even greater consequences for the brand.

The Harris Interactive study referenced earlier shows that of online adults who experience a problem when conducting a mobile transaction, 63 percent would be less likely to buy from the same company via any channel—in-store, website, call center, etc.

However, it works both ways. By improving the mobile experience, retailers gain loyal customers who advocate for their brand, like these:

I'm in love with the _____shopping app!

_____ I love your shopping app! It's fantastic!

To fully capitalize on this new channel, retailers need to recognize that they'll have to do some things differently. First, they need a clear understanding of the mobile experience they provide their customers. Since mobile devices lead to new behaviors—like rotating screens, swiping and varying "folds,' it's critical for retailers to know what consumers are experiencing. The ability to quickly identify and remedy customer frustrations means not only fewer #fails on Twitter, but also greater gains from their mobile channels as well as their business as a whole.

Online Behavior © 2012