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Much has been said about mobile over the years. Every marketer, brand manager or head of multichannel knows that it’s key to capturing customers on the move. 

Over the years, retailers in particular have been developing and re-developing their mobile channels in an attempt to provide as quick and seamless an experience as possible.

But what is it that shoppers actually want from a mobile experience?

Once every six months we ask a group of shoppers to assess a selection of the top rated retail apps and mobile sites on the market, telling us what they like and what they don’t like throughout the mobile shopping customer journey.

Benchmark results

Since we started to benchmark the mobile market back in September 2010, results have shown that time and time again that shoppers are starting to take a shine to some aspects of their journey more than others.

Features rated highest are often the smaller touches that make a real difference to the overall mobile customer journey and we’ve decided to summarise the key areas where brands could make small differences and help improve their customer satisfaction.

Homepage

First impressions count. Mobile sites have come a long way since their introduction around three years ago. The very first mobile optimised retail sites made it clear that it was all about functionality; homepages were pretty much just large, clear navigational links ready to take users off to where they wanted to go.

The result was that while many sites were simple and easy to use, most left mobile shoppers uninspired.

These days however, retailers need to develop simple and functional, yet attractive homepages – mobile sites should include navigational links and clear search options, as well as promotional images to draw shoppers in.

Interflora’s homepage went down extremely well with our group of shoppers recently and mainly because they provide just that.

It also promotes that customer service number big and bold at the top of both their mobile site and mobile app offering customers opportunity to choose a different route to purchase should they so wish. 

Interflora mobile site homepage     Interflora mobile app homepage

Search functions

A mobile site needs a search function. It’s a fundamental feature. However, the better optimised a keyword search function is, the easier it will be for potential customers to find what they’re looking for and the bigger the chance they might actually go on and purchase that item.

Predictive text features are now expected by the majority of shoppers, especially those using a mobile. Having to type in the whole of a product name or category is sometimes just too fiddly and time consuming – our results show that users are likely to get fed up and just leave the site.

Sites should also make the effort to correct misspellings. Typos are common nature in mobile use and creating a solution that combats this issue when shopping will help to increase user satisfaction.

Amazon predictive text     Amazon spell check

Barcode scanners

A barcode scanner is a great additional feature that goes down a treat with shoppers. Whilst some retailers are wary of mobile shoppers walking through their doors armed with barcode scanners, they are loved by users and will soon become an essential feature for mobile apps.

Our results show that shoppers particularly like those barcode scanners that not only look up items for additional information, but also link to related items, making searching and browsing a much easier and more interactive experience.

Amazon barcode scanner     Barcode scanner items found

Purchase

Since we started the eChannel Benchmark study just over one year ago, it’s no surprise that Amazon continues to do well in the purchase section of the customer journey.

Their 1-click purchases are quick, simple and seamless; everything a mobile shopper is looking for when they go to buy a product on the move.

The biggest issue our shoppers have come across when they complete a purchase, however, are long, complicated and often unnecessary registration forms. While, as a new shopper, some details are essential, some are really not needed.

The best option retailers can offer new customers is to complete their details needed for a purchase (so address, card details and an email address) and give them the ability to use these details to register at a later date when they’re in front of a desktop or tablet PC.

Product pages

Our research results show time and time again that product pages are the biggest bug bear with mobile shoppers and the one area that brands really need to look at improving.

Grocers in particular suffer in this area by not offering basic and expected features such as product descriptions or even storage information.

Retailers are faced with the challenge of condensing their traditional online pages enough so that they don’t overwhelm users but still include enough to allow users to make an informed purchases decision.

Debenhams have repeatedly been rated well in this area. The site shows a clear understanding of their customers, offering a condensed form of what is available on the traditional online site, including a fair amount of alternative images, product information and customer reviews neatly presented in an easy to read page.

Debenhams product image     Debenhams customer reviews

What’s important to remember here is that none of these features, perhaps other than predictive text and barcode scanners, require a great amount of technical input. Instead they are small features that have been introduced to mobile sites and apps over the years, all with the idea of making the mobile customer experience quicker, bigger and better.

It’s also important to remember to listen to customers; what they love, what they don’t love and how you can make their experience better.

Mobile users have been driving the mobile shopping revolution from the outset (mobile shopping started long before the first retail apps were around) and therefore developers shouldn’t ignore them when creating new features; there’s not much to be gained from a whizzy technical feature that doesn’t actually add anything to the table and improve the customer experience.

Our next set of eChannel Benchmark results (available September 2013) will no doubt highlight yet more simple, yet effective, improvements that are changing the mobile customer experience and driving mCommerce sales.

Have we missed features that you’ve introduced to your mobile site that’s resonated well with your customers? Are you looking to introduce any features in the near future as a result of customer feedback?

Derek Eccleston

Published 22 April, 2013 by Derek Eccleston

Derek Eccleston is Chief Development Officer at eDigitalResearch (edr), part of MARU Group, and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can connect with Derek on LinkedIn.

5 more posts from this author

Comments (3)

Marcin Grodzicki

Marcin Grodzicki, Founder at BOOM

It would be interesting to expand your research to parameters such as site performance (page load times) as perceived by users as well as deeper insights about features such as phone number: link-to-call, type of phone number (084 vs landline)

about 3 years ago

Pete Williams

Pete Williams, Managing Director at Gibe Digital

Also button sizes seem to be getting smaller, however I haven't noticed the human race evolving a stylus for an index finger just yet!

about 3 years ago

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Oliver

Great post really outlining the importance of customer focus!

Here is a blog post I wrote on the future of retail, discussing the marriage of digital and physical worlds.
http://crowdmedia.co.uk/blogposts/burberry-weaves-its-magic-into-a-new-pattern-of-thought/

@olliesmith87
@wearecrowd

about 3 years ago

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