Retail Customer Experience: Four Out of Five Frustrated with Mobile Experience

Apr 15, 2011

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary
of a current article from Retail Customer Experience, a daily news portal
devoted to helping retailers differentiate the shopping experience.

to a survey conducted online by Harris Interactive, more than four in five
(84 percent) consumers who have conducted a mobile transaction via smartphone
or other mobile device in the past year have experienced problems.

to the survey commissioned by Tealeaf, of those who struggled while conducting
a transaction via their mobile devices:

  • 34 percent received an error message; 
  • 29 percent said the app/website was difficult to navigate; 
  • 25 percent were unable to complete a transaction due to an endless loop; 
  • 23 percent had trouble logging in; 
  • 16 percent said they encountered insufficient, incorrect, or confusing

Just how frustrating are customer struggles on a mobile device? The survey found
that more adults would be extremely or very frustrated by experiencing a transaction
problem on a mobile device (58 percent) than by going to the division of motor
vehicles (50 percent) or being stuck in traffic (56 percent).

If they experienced
problems attempting to conduct mobile transactions, many consumers would abandon
their transactions and take their business elsewhere:

  • 43 percent would abandon the mobile transaction and try later on a computer;
  • 16 percent would become more likely to buy from a competitor;
  • 14 percent would email or log a complaint with customer service;
  • 12 percent would abandon the transaction at the app/site and try a competitor’s

Most importantly, customer struggles on a mobile device would drive consumers
away from doing business with a company entirely. Sixty-three percent of all
online adults said they would be less likely to buy from the same company via
other purchase channels if they experienced a problem conducting a transaction
on their mobile phones.

At the same time, expectations for the mobile shopping
experience are very high. Eighty percent expect the mobile shopping experience
to be better than or equal to in-store and 85 percent expect the experience
to be better than or equal to online using a laptop or desktop computer.

"Everyone talks about the momentum in the mobile channel and customers
continue to show an increasing appetite for moving transactions to these devices," said
Rebecca Ward, CEO of Tealeaf. "However, mobile consumers find the convenience
of transacting anywhere is often offset by unsatisfying and unproductive experiences.
Just because we can pay our bills from our smartphones while riding the subway
doesn’t mean our expectations are reduced. Mobile consumers are no more willing
to tolerate poor experiences than customers accessing websites from their desktops."

Discussion Questions: Is the promised functionality and overall experience of mobile shopping being overestimated? How much of these issues are short-term, in the start-up variety? How should retailers and brands deal with these problems at present?

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12 Comments on "Retail Customer Experience: Four Out of Five Frustrated with Mobile Experience"

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Paula Rosenblum
10 years 1 month ago

I don’t think there’s enough real estate on today’s smart phone screens to make the experience superior to a “regular” web experience. Having said that, I suppose there will be projectors on the things soon enough, and if you have a wall in front of you, you’ll see a larger screen.

Consumers may be frustrated, but they still keep trying. And they will be back.

What’s really scary is how the store is just falling out of the “experience” equation. It’s only a retailer’s highest or next-to-highest expense line (with PAYROLL, which also lives in the stores). Retailers probably should focus more on making the store shopping experience better than they should on improving the mobile phone shopping experience. Otherwise there’s going to be a lot of trouble for most of them.

Bob Phibbs
10 years 1 month ago

You mean there are cracks in the armor of mobile? Bricks and mortar etail is still at risk in the digital age and many will say this is just growing pains. But with all they hype how easy it is, if the experience is one step up from the DMV, how many will continue to plug away until they get it right, and how many will just shop at home after we’ve taught customers cold technology is the be-all and end-all?

Max Goldberg
10 years 1 month ago

Mobile shopping is still coming of age, and during that time it will be an uneven experience. Many retailers have not customized their sites to accommodate mobile shoppers. And those who have need to reexamine what is shown on a small screen versus a computer screen.

Consumers also have unrealistic expectations. Mobile signals often negatively impact the shopping experience, unlike using a stationary computer at home or the office.

Over time, mobile will get better. Consumers want to use mobile due to the convenience. Retailers want to have another consumer touch point. That mutual interest will be the driver.

Marge Laney
10 years 1 month ago

Technology is perfect, right? That couldn’t be farther from the truth, but the expectation is still there. If you wrap your product in a technology-based service experience, it better be nearly flawless. There is nothing more frustrating for a customer to experience than a technology failure when trying to get information or make a purchase.

Technology experiences are touted to be far superior to personal experiences, but they are not. Having a mobile presence is necessary to keep up with how consumers want to shop, but you better have some people around to make it right when things go wrong.

Joan Treistman
10 years 1 month ago
Except for the last sentence in the article you could substitute websites some years back. Consumers learned to navigate and companies improved the navigation on their websites. So it will be with mobile devices. Since screens on smart phones are smaller than computer screens and users are in fact “mobile,” there are inherent obstacles to ease of use. The respondents to the survey have to be more technologically savvy than many as they are the first to use mobile devices for transactions. Their stated problems are critical barriers for main stream consumers. Marketers should pay attention and resolve the difficulties. However, retailers have a distinct advantage over the original website owners in that their staff can be educated to assist before frustration sets in. A few weeks ago I was in a Calvin Klein outlet store where signage showed me a coupon was available on my phone. I was all “pinkies.” If I had been all “thumbs” I would have known what to do. The sales person helped me out and I had my discount.… Read more »
Gene Detroyer
10 years 1 month ago

Max has this right. There continues to be interest by the shopper. Those retailers who get their interfaces right will have a distinct competitive advantage versus those retailers who see mobile transactions as an “add-on.” Consider how long it has taken for traditional retailers to integrate their online business. Today, online shopping is a “no-brainer” at most sites. Tomorrow mobile transactions will also be. Those retailers who embrace it will be successful. Those who fight it will lose opportunity and revenue.

Retailers talk about sales per square foot. The sales per square foot for online (at home or mobile) is infinite. What retailer would not want that kind of metric?

Warren Thayer
10 years 1 month ago

Good thread. Joan Treistman has it nailed, IMHO. We have more younger, computer-literate consumers on the way up at the same time that the technology bugs are ironed out. I’m inclined to think that many people will continue to use both computers and mobile devices; much in the way that when TV came along, radio didn’t die.

Brian Kelly
10 years 1 month ago

Mobile is more than smart phones. Mobile includes tablets.

Doug Fleener
10 years 1 month ago

Retailers who use technology to enhance and extend their customer experience will benefit the most from mobile’s rise. The rest will become a showroom for

Ed Rosenbaum
10 years 1 month ago

OK…so four out of five are frustrated. But for varying reasons. I have to agree with both Max & Joan. This is going to happen. Just as web shopping was a pain in the butt (or fingers) when it started; this too will have growing pains. Maybe the difference between then and now is we have become more tech savvy and less tolerant. What a shame.

I prefer to touch and see what I am buying. I dislike shopping. So how do I overcome this dilemma? I have to decide what is more important, the time I use going to a store, or the need to hold what I want before purchasing.

We need to consider the effect this will have on property and staffing once the tech savvy buyer reduces store visits. That issue will be more serious to the economy than how one prefers to shop. Another thing for talking heads politicians to disagree on.

Larry Negrich
10 years 1 month ago

It will be an evolution. Screens will get bigger. Flexible (translating to larger) screens will be out in the next few years. Retailer mobile sites will be tuned for smart/mobile devices. Consumers will identify the types of purchases they are most comfortable making via mobile just as the online shoppers did. (Remember when Amazon was a book seller?) And smart retailers will deliver a mobile shopping experience that compliments their stores, online, call centers, TV, etc., Retailers should prepare now and pilot industry-leading ideas in fiscally responsible ways keeping in mind that this is another step in the evolution of retail.

Matthew Keylock
Matthew Keylock
10 years 1 month ago

Tesco’s first approach to e-commerce included receiving a CD that contained the product list, then faxing your choices to a call center who sent a list to the store who picked and delivered it. They now have sales over $3BN in less than a decade.

New approaches in retail are not going to be perfect from day one.

You need to be in the game and learning what works for your customers and your brand to succeed. Granted you may not choose to be first to market, but you can’t ignore mobile. Retailers must plan their approach carefully and make sure their promises are in line with capabilities. Going too big too soon could be very detrimental to the brand.


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