Shopper Sentiment Research Finds Retailers “Behind The Mobile Curve”

With the 2012 holiday season freshly behind us, retailers and suppliers are striving to collect detailed information on consumers’ cross-channel shopping strategies, high-level trends, and necessary improvements for 2013. Many also are assessing holiday-focused shopping research, such as a study from OpinionLab, a VoC solution provider, which found that shoppers are demanding more streamlined shopping experiences, especially as they relate to mobile transactions.

For the Holiday 2012 eCommerce Site Experience Findings report, OpinionLab analyzed customer feedback from more than 43,000 online shoppers from November 1, 2012 to December 11, 2012. Responses were gathered using OpinonLab opt-in research methodology. Satisfaction and experience scores were calculated using a Site Opinion Rating system: a scale from one to five, weighted to reflect key drivers of satisfaction, loyalty, and purchase intent. Satisfaction was segmented by purpose of visit: customer service, to locate a store, research/browse/price hunt, and to purchase.

“From a high-level perspective, we wanted to see what customers felt about specific browsing and buying experiences,” said Michael Whitehouse, Senior Marketing Analyst at OpinionLab. “While a lot of data in the retail space speaks to transactional volume, nothing really speaks to true customer satisfaction.”


Results showed that consumers “embraced tablets” more than other devices to research, browse and price hunt, giving the technology a 3.64 rating. In comparison, smartphones (3.47) and desktops (2.94) received relatively low marks. But sentiment among consumers using their tablets to purchase an item was drastically low: shoppers gave their experiences only a 2.39 out of the possible 5.

“The tablet struggles in the purchasing experience,” Whitehouse noted. “There is a massive gap between its use for purchasing and browsing. I believe this really speaks to the maturity of the tablet as a platform and strategy for retailers.”

Similarly, strategies for smartphones lagged in customer experience: Mobile phones ranked the lowest in overall satisfaction, with a rating of 3.19. This poor score confirms that retailers need to focus more time and energy on developing a seamless mobile experience, according to Whitehouse.

“The retail industry is at an inflection point in which channels are starting to blur and the web itself is being augmented by mobile,” Whitehouse said. “Generally, retailers have done a great job of providing ‘second screen content strategies’ for mobile browsing and researching. But for the transaction experience — either via apps or the mobile web — retailers aren’t where they should be.”

Because retailers still are relatively “behind the mobile curve,” Whitehouse advised that organizations focus on “ease of shopping and intuitiveness of purchasing processes.” In fact, when visiting a retailer’s mobile web site, 42% of smartphone users and 34% of tablet shoppers indicated that they wanted to buy a product during their online sessions, but didn’t complete a transaction due to poor buying experiences.

“Consumers are looking to transact on their mobile devices,” Whitehouse said. “This intent is running faster than retailers’ abilities to provide those seamless cross-channel experiences.”

In 2013, retailers are going to feel more pressure to create these more unified experiences across devices, Whitehouse stated. “It’s no longer enough to have a mobile app, site and a store,” he said. “You may have four different experiences and consumers are really rebelling against that. If retailers don’t pull it off they’re going to see their customer base start bleeding the way. Shoppers see brands and retailers as single identities, and they want to have the same exceptional experience regardless of the channel they’re using.”

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