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Retailers must streamline mobile shopping with easy checkout: report

The Chicago-based e-commerce consulting firm?s fifth annual Mystery Shopping Report reaffirmed that merchants rank mobile as a top priority yet remain in the early stages of creating superior online experiences. The results show that although merchants realize they have to spend time and money to keep up with an increasingly mobile shopping population, they still are making decisions in the context of their existing business rather than in the mobile space. 

?Exemplary mobile experiences mean brand parity across channels and highlighting cross-channel options from store information to inventory lookup,? said Lauren Freedman, president, etailing group inc. ?Mcommerce must inspire shoppers via merchandising and efficient search/navigation and checkout where one-click is ideal,? she said. 

?Ideally, robust information will be forthcoming to support confident decision-making and lastly mobile-minded customer service will be in place to take care of this on-the-go shopper.? 

Ecommerce retailers
One hundred eight senior executives from a cross-section of ecommerce retailers completed e-tailing group?s survey. Its objective was to explore mobile shopping?s evolution amid greater adoption by consumers and retailers alike. 

Home shopping network QVC scored highest among retailers in creating shopping experiences that meet the mobile customer?s needs. American Eagle Outfitters and Sephora both made the list for the second consecutive year. 

Grasping that mobile tends to do well with information that is scannable and photography that is sized appropriately for the device, many retailers are planning to rework their existing assets, incurring the necessary costs, Ms. Freedman said. 

Half the respondents said they were investing to take advantage of the growth opportunity that mobile represents. Retail mobile sales are expected to reach $50 billion this year. 

Three out of four consider mobile mission-critical to their business and plan to invest in the customer experience. Half place a high emphasis on technology and responsive design. 

Surveyed sites included strong omni-channel tools, starting with the store and product locator. Product information and reviews played critical roles as well. 

E-tailing?s report painted a picture of an increasingly mobile United States shopping population, with mobile extending its edge over desktop computers and tablets gaining an edge over smartphones. 

U.S. retail mobile commerce sales are expected to soar to $132.69 billion, or 27 percent of Web sales, in 2018, from $42.13 billion, or 16 percent of total Web sales, last year. 

So far this year, 65 percent of United States consumers aged 13 and above use smartphones and 34 percent use tablets. Fifty-six percent of U.S. Internet users use both desktops and mobile devices to access digital content online, including e-retail sites and applications. 

While most digital commerce spending still occurs on desktops, mobile is growing at a 23 percent rate, compared with a 10.5 percent growth rate a year ago. 

By 2018, 72.6 percent of mcommerce is expected to take place on tablets, totaling $96.31 billion. US tablet penetration is expected to climb to 52.1 percent of population by 2018 from 46.2 percent this year. Tablet sales this year are expected to reach $38.02 billion, more than doubling projected smartphone sales of $18.49 billion. 

Some 124.8 million U.S. consumers, or 63 percent of digital shoppers, will shop on a smartphone this year.

Satisfying shoppers
E-tailing?s report implies that to meet the mobile shopper?s demands, retailers must work to maintain branding consistency across channels and ensure that customers can connect with a brand via an 800 number, email contact form or email address. 

It also implies that retailers should use a combination of merchandising and promotional tactics on their home pages and throughout their sites to drive visitors deeper, rather than burying them on interior pages.

American Eagle Outfitters' mobile app.

Retailers also must provide a retail locator that includes comprehensive information such as geolocation, driving directions/maps, store hours, and clickable phone numbers to ensure that customers arrive at their destination ready to purchase. 

The study also suggests that retailers do more to keep usability top-of-mind by using only legible text, implementing keyword searches at the top of all site pages, providing users with relevant refinement and sorting options, and enabling shoppers to check out quickly and efficiently with pre-populated profile information within an interface that requires minimal clicks to complete. 

?The checkout process should be convenient and streamlined with a minimal number of steps including choice of payment options and ?buy with confidence? builders along the journey,? Ms. Freedman said. 

?Customer service should be readily available as a destination and smartly integrated and customers should have all the information necessary to make a purchase.? 

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter with Mobile Marketer, New York.