There’s no doubt that additional digital functionality can help differentiate brands and engage customers over time. Yet none of that matters unless companies take care of the basics. Our research debunked several myths often heard in boardrooms about what consumers value most when it comes to mobile shopping.
Myth #1: The app is the answer. Many retailers believe that a mobile app will help them attract new customers and stay top of mind. Yet our survey respondents were twice as likely to use mobile sites rather than apps, with only 11 percent noticing any meaningful difference between the two platforms. Apps do appear better at engaging the best customers than attracting new ones: loyal customers are more than twice as likely to install an app. However, as the number of shopping apps proliferates, many people seem reluctant to use them: barely 30 percent of mobile shoppers have more than two shopping apps, and only 7 percent have more than five. And having an app doesn’t always translate into traffic: half of those who installed an app stopped using it entirely—whether to get content, browse products, or check for deals—if they weren’t making regular purchases.
For retailers seeking meaningful growth in traffic and sales, the first priority should be a great, mobile site that’s easy to use (with a notable exception for grocers, where our research found that apps do matter more). After that, building an app may make sense if it provides additional features that customers really value, such as fuss-free price comparisons, easy-to-access saved baskets, and delivery tracking.
Myth #2: The difference between good and great on mobile is ‘cool’ features. For most of the people we surveyed, basic functionality is far more important than novelty or dazzle. Load speed, for example, matters about 60 percent more than having videos. Respondents said the three most important functionalities were smooth checkout, the ease of adding and dropping items from a basket, and site navigation—apparently because they reduce the biggest frustrations associated with mobile shopping. A cumbersome site is likely to cause some visitors to leave before finalizing their purchases and discourage them from returning.
Myth #3: Showrooming is a show stopper. Many retailers fear that shoppers are “showrooming”—visiting stores in person to see products and then making their purchases at other stores or online at lower prices. And it’s certainly true that more than half of smartphone owners use their phones in stores, and two-thirds of those compare prices.
Yet most brick-and-mortar retailers should worry less about showrooming. Why? Because most people end up buying from the retailer eventually, and 58 percent of them do so at brick-and-mortar stores—most of them at the very store where they started. So, while some 56 percent of all consumers who have made a purchase (online or offline) conduct research online, the share of sales influenced by mobile is much greater than sales actually made by mobile.4 That suggests that while price is important, other factors such as the in-store experience and convenience continue to play major roles in purchasing decisions. After all, is it really worth driving to another store across town or waiting for a delivery to save a couple of dollars or pounds?
Myth #4: The main value of digitization is in driving self-service. Digital tools may allow some retailers to employ fewer people in some areas, such as inventory and checkout. But we found that the right digital tools may make other employees more valuable than ever. In fact, six in ten mobile shoppers believe that sales assistants with digital tools can help them find products, explain options and features, order out-of-stock items, and so on. In fact, shoppers view mobile-enabled sales assistants—particularly in showrooms and large-format stores—as enhancing the shopping experience, underlining the need for retailers to find and train motivated, well-prepared, and well-equipped employees.
Which of these myths has been costing you? To know how we can help you better understand your customers,contact us.