A new Mobile Satisfaction Index study by the research
company ForeSee warns retailers that if they're not satisfying their customers
in the mobile arena, they may lose business to a competitor that can.
"The mobile revolution is here, and these companies-even the
largest and best at what they do-cannot afford to waste time, effort and
resources making poor decisions when it comes to their mobile experiences," the
study says. "Metrics that simply track activity will not provide much insight.
Retailers need better measurements and more actionable intelligence."
The study examined 25 of the top retail companies providing
mobile experiences for consumers during the 2012 holiday shopping season. Among
its conclusions is that "company leaders are still struggling with
understanding and meeting the expectations of their mobile customers."
More than 6,200 consumers who visited the 25 companies' mobile
sites and apps on cellphones and tablets from Nov. 21 to Dec. 10 were surveyed.
Satisfaction with the mobile experiences was measured on a 100-point index
scale. Overall satisfaction level was 78, with top individual company scores
ranging between 73 and 85, but those scores are not necessarily something to
boast about, considering the 25 sites examined were among the most widely used
retail sites and apps. Mobile satisfaction did improve cumulatively from a similar
survey conducted during the holiday season in 2011 when the overall satisfaction
level was 76.
The company scoring the highest satisfaction level was
Amazon.com with a score of 85, followed by Apple and QVC, with scores of 83
each. Next was Victoria's Secret and NewEgg, both with satisfaction scores of
Others in order were: Barnes and Noble, Footlocker and HSN,
each with 79; Costco, Hewlett Packard, Kohl's and SportsmansGuide.com, with 78;
Best Buy, Buy.com, J.C. Penney, Macy's, One King's Lane, Staples and Target,
all with 77; Walmart at 75; Gilt.com, Overstock, RueLaLa and Sears, all with 74;
and Shop NBC at 73.
Retailers showing the most improvement in their customer
satisfaction rating between holiday season 2011 and 2012 were Victoria's Secret
and Target, which both increased five points. Barnes and Noble improved by four
points, and Sears and Walmart increased their satisfaction rating by three
points. Apple had the biggest decline, falling two points.
ForeSee also compared mobile site satisfaction to website
satisfaction and found only five instances out of the 25 retailers where
consumer satisfaction was higher for mobile than for the retailers' websites.
Apple had a mobile satisfaction score of 83, compared to 80
for its website. Foot Locker had a mobile score of 79 and a website score of 76.
Buy.com's mobile score was 77; its website scored a 75 among those polled. Gilt
Groupe had a mobile score of 74 and a website score of 72, and RueLaLa had a
mobile score of 74 with an accompanying website score of 73.
Conversely, Amazon.com has a website satisfaction score of
88, compared to its mobile score of 85, and Walmart had a website score of 78
and a mobile score of 75. The largest differential went to Shop NBC, which posted
a website score of 78 and a mobile score of 73.
The ForeSee study also addressed the act of "showrooming,"
where customers go to stores to look at merchandise in person and then shop
online, often via mobile, to get a better price through a competitor.
The study found that almost 70% of mobile users reported
using their mobile phone while in a retail store this past holiday season, with
62% doing so to access the store's website, 37% doing it to access a competitor's
website, 21% accessing a shopping comparison website such as Shopzilla.com, 20%
accessing the store's mobile shopping app on their phone, and 11% looking at a
competitor's mobile shopping app.
"Our research shows that showrooming...highlights the
importance of the mobile experience for brick and mortar companies," the
ForeSee study says. "Storefront retailers have an opportunity to keep their
customers by providing a better experience for them."
There are several other reasons consumers utilize mobile
retail sites and apps. The survey found 40% compared different products; 55%
looked up price information about a product; 29% looked up product
specifications; 29% looked up product reviews; 27% made a purchase; and 13%
looked up store information such as location and hours.
Among the consumers who visited a company's mobile site, 86%
said they either purchased from the site or planned to do so in future.
"Customers are using their mobile phones as
integrated parts of their shopping experience," says Eric Feinberg, senior
director of mobile at ForeSee, who co-authored the study report. "Mobile is the
ultimate companion channel, making showrooming as much of an opportunity as it
is a threat. Retailers need to engage their customers equally well through all
channels, especially through mobile sites and apps or risk losing customers and
sales to competitors that do a better job of meeting their needs."