Retailers in the United States, as elsewhere, are expanding their mobile footprint. However the options they offer still don’t match up to the customer purchasing experience on their big browser websites, or in-store, and they are still not focusing sufficiently on links to the point of sale, finds a recent survey.

US Brands Providing Very Limited Mobile Shopping Experience

Acquity Group, a leading global e-commerce and digital marketing company, has just announced the results of its inaugural 2012 Brand eCommerce Audit™, which examines how successful the top 50 US retail brands are with customer engagement across digital channels. The study found that 82% of the top 50 retailers have basic mobile offerings, but very few of them offer a more complex experience. However, warns Acquity Executive Vice President Jay Dettling, “Mobile is no longer a separate channel for e-commerce,”adding: “Now that brands recognise the importance of the mobile channel, their focus must shift to adopting forward-looking mobility strategies to augment their in-store and big browser sales channels.”  Most of the brands studied make use of basic mobile capabilities, including shopping carts (88%), featured products (85%), customer reviews (63%) and contact forms (54%), among other tools.

Websites not yet optimised for mobile

However, some of the functions that brands offer on their websites are not available on a mobile device. While 76% of retailers offer product image zoom capabilities on the big browser, still only 39% provide this feature on mobile devices. Moreover, although the vast majority have an email opt-in system – i.e. an email address which a brand is authorised to use by prior consent of the user – on big browser, barely a third support this feature on mobile.  More generally, while brands receive high marks overall for their main website presence, still relatively few offer what Acquity calls ‘emerging features’, such as chat (24%), checking product availability at local stores (30%), and flexible pickup and returns in-store for online purchases (36%) even on the big browser sites. Moreover, although the study identified video as the most popular up-and-coming feature, only 36% of the retailers polled currently incorporate this in their sites.

New functionality

“Brands have a significant opportunity to leverage emerging features to increase engagement and positionthemselves more competitively against Amazon, eBay, and other discount and warehouse retailers,” points out Jay Dettling. He believes that companies should assess their current offerings now and adjust accordingly, as many brands will be introducing more flexible payment, delivery and user-experience capabilities in 2013. The study also found that only one in ten brands currently offer up-and-coming in-store digital experiences such as augmented reality, relevant product content access, in-store loyalty applications and digital barcode coupons.

By Albino Pedroia
Consultant Média