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Mobile customer satisfaction already "critical" to multichannel business?

12th Jan 2011
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The evolution of mobile technology has given rise to the empowered consumer: at the touch of a button, almost anywhere, consumers can research products, companies, and even make purchases. How does this trend impact a retailer’s bottom line? What can retailers do to retain mobile shoppers as customers across all channels?

As part of a study of nearly 10,000 visitors to the biggest e-retail websites in the United Kingdom (determined by traffic, according to IMRG), ForeSee Results used a scientific, predictive methodology to examine the impact of mobile shopping trends on retailers’ future business. ForeSee Results’ methodology is able to show how customers’ satisfaction with various interactions with a company (including mobile shopping and applications) impacts their purchase intent, loyalty, and recommendations across all channels.
We found that the use of mobile phones to access companies’ websites, mobile websites and applications for shopping purposes is increasing dramatically in both the UK and the US, indicating that any retailer who is not wholeheartedly embracing the mobile trend is leaving money on the table for competitors.
Key findings include:
  • Shoppers are using mobile phones to access websites and apps more than ever before. 32% of respondents have used their phone to access a retailer website, and an additional 32% indicated they plan to access retailer websites or mobile apps by phone in the future.
  • Mobile purchase behaviour is exploding. A total of 8% of web shoppers reported having made a purchase from their phones this Christmas season, compared to only 2% at this time last year. This 8% figure lags the U.S., but only by a little; 11% of American shoppers have bought something on their mobile phone.
  • Shoppers use their phones for a variety of tasks. The majority of shoppers who used their phones for retail purposes did so to compare price information (47%). Shoppers also used their phones to compare different products (34%), to look up product specifications (20%), and to view product reviews (15%). 
  • Shoppers use their phones to look at competitor websites. While in physical stores, more than two-thirds of mobile shoppers (67%) used their phones to visit the store’s own website, but one-quarter (26%) used their phones to access a competitor’s website. This proportion is up substantially from 2009, when only 17% of mobile shoppers accessed a competitor’s site from within a store.
  • Traditional websites satisfy shoppers more than mobile sites and apps. In general, shoppers rate their satisfaction with retail websites significantly higher (72 on the study’s 100-point scale) than their satisfaction with mobile experiences (apps and sites) (67). A similar score gap is present in the U.S., although scores for both websites (78) and mobile experiences (75) were higher.
  • Good experiences with mobile sites and apps have critical cross-channel impact. Shoppers who are highly satisfied with a mobile experience say they are 32% more likely to buy from that retailer online and 31% more likely to buy offline, as well as being far more likely to return to the main website, recommend it, and be loyal to the brand. 
Mobile phone use on the rise
Analysts are predicting that smartphone use will outpace feature phone use by the end of 2011, which means more people than ever before will have retailer websites, mobile websites, and retailer-supplied applications within arm’s reach any time, any place.
In our study, 32% of all survey respondents indicated that they had accessed a retailer’s website using a mobile phone (compared to 23% in 2009) and an additional 32% indicate that they plan to use their mobile phone to access a retailer’s website, mobile website, or mobile app in the future. In other words, more than half of all online shoppers are either already using or plan to use their phones for retail purposes. This finding indicates a huge opportunity for retailers with sophisticated, user-centric mobile sites and apps.
Compared to last year, twice as many people are using their phones for product research purposes. Use of retailer-developed mobile apps has tripled, and purchasing from phones has tripled. Despite these increases, UK adoption of mobile shopping still trails US adoption in many of these areas. Any retailer not making huge strides in developing user-centric mobile shopping apps is leaving money on the table for competitors.
Among the group that used their mobile phone to access the website, mobile site, or app for the specific Top 40 retailer they rated, most looked up price information (47%), compared different products (34%), looked up product specifications (20%), or viewed product reviews (15%). Retailers need to understand what their shoppers want, need, and expect so they can develop mobile apps and sites accordingly. Higher numbers in the U.S. could indicate that mobile shopping will be a huge area of growth for the U.K. in 2011.
Mobile phones give retailers the opportunity to target customers not only in their own brick-and-mortar stores, but also in their competitors’ stores. While some retailers have adopted location-based advertising that shows mobile shoppers targeted advertisements and specials based on their locations, our research shows that customers are actively visiting competing websites and apps in order to get product information. In fact, the proportion of mobile shoppers who look at a competitor’s site while in a retailer’s brick-and-mortar store has greatly increased since last year (26% compared to 17%). Having accessible and easy-to-use in-store product comparison tools may be one way to prevent customers from turning to competitors for information and to make purchases.
While mobile phone usage for retail purposes is dramatically increasing, customer satisfaction with mobile experiences is not nearly as high as it is for retail websites, in either the US or the UK. However, the maturity gap is much bigger in the UK. In the US, satisfaction with retail websites (78) outpaces satisfaction with mobile sites and apps (75) by only three points. In the UK, there is a five-point gap. Customer expectations are being set by websites and by the best mobile sites and apps. It is no longer acceptable for a retailer to have a subpar mobile site no matter how good their traditional site is. If shoppers aren’t having a good mobile experience with a given retailer, they will simply go elsewhere.
Measuring satisfaction is a must
The ACSI methodology used to conduct this study recognises that satisfaction itself is not the only desired end result. As shown in the following diagram, a world-renowned economics professor at the University of Michigan created a methodology that measures customer satisfaction in such a way that it predicts customers’ likelihood to shop again, buy more, or be loyal to the company in question. It has even been shown to predict stock prices.
The impact of mobile customer satisfaction on a retailer’s multichannel business is clear. The data show that a satisfied shopper is far more likely to purchase (online and offline), remain loyal, and engage in positive word-of-mouth recommendations than is a dissatisfied mobile shopper. While this may be intuitive, the ACSI is able to quantify the impact of a satisfied online shopper on a retailer’s overall business operations.
As shown in the preceding diagram, customer satisfaction leads to:
  • Future purchase: Compared to shoppers who are dissatisfied with a mobile experience (have satisfaction scores of 69 or lower), shoppers who are highly satisfied with a mobile experience (have satisfaction scores of 80 or higher) say they are 32% more likely to purchase from that retailer online and 31% more likely to purchase offline.
  • Loyalty and market share: Compared to dissatisfied shoppers, highly satisfied mobile shoppers are 32% more likely to buy from that retailer the next time they buy similar merchandise (customer loyalty), 35% more committed to the brand, and 27% more likely to visit the company’s website again.
  • Positive impression of the retailer overall: Satisfied shoppers who use mobile applications say they are 36% more satisfied with the retailer overall when compared to dissatisfied shoppers.
  • Positive word of mouth recommendations: Highly satisfied shoppers are 64% more likely to recommend the website to a friend, family member, or colleague than are dissatisfied shoppers.
Applications and websites tailored to mobile shoppers are a must-have for retailers. As smartphone use increases, more customers will turn to the mobile channel to find price and product information before making a purchase. Whether or not a customer turns to a specific retailer’s site or app will be dependent on availability and ease of use. Since satisfaction with mobile experiences drives critical customer behaviour, the measurement of satisfaction with websites, mobile websites, and mobile apps shoppers is a necessity.  
Kevin Ertell leads ForeSee Results continued growth in the retail industry by working with the product, delivery, client services, and marketing teams to maximise ForeSee Results' value to retail clients. Kevin is a recognised and respected figure in the online retail industry. He has been a featured speaker at many e-retail conferences like, eTail, and Internet Retailer, in addition to being featured and quoted in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, the Detroit Free Press, and more. He is also a member of's Board of Directors,’s Policy Advisory Committee, and the Cross-Channel Retailing Consortium.
ForeSee Results can be found online at

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