Slow retail apps and websites cause one in three to shop elsewhere

Dynatrace (formerly Compuware APM), the user-centric application performance management (APM), has announced the findings of a new TNS survey of 2,470 UK smartphone and tablet owners, looking at their attitudes and approaches to shopping over the Christmas period. The survey was also repeated by local research agencies in other regions, including France and Germany, and a separate survey was also conducted in the United States by Harris Poll, helping to provide a global perspective on consumer buying trends.

Key findings include:

  • Web and mobile shopping isn't just a piece of the pie, it's the main course for many: almost half (44%) of UK smartphone owners said they will do most of their shopping online or through their mobile devices; while a further 31% will use a combination of mobile, online and in-store. In the US, setting the trend, 52% of millennials (adults aged 18-34) say they will do more shopping on their devices than they will through in-store purchases. Initial data showed that mobile accounted for 52% of Thanksgiving and Black Friday online traffic this year.
  • Patience for poor performance is fading: 36% of UK smartphone owners would be likely to abandon a slow mobile experience and shop elsewhere if it fails to load in three seconds or less, compared to 46% in the US and France or 20% in Germany.
  • Poor mobile experiences are damaging reputations: 37% of UK smartphone owners said that they are likely to leave negative app store reviews and complain on social media after a poor experience with a retailer's mobile site or app. This figure compares to 61% in France, 44% in the US and 33% in Germany.

"The message from these findings is loud and clear: mobile is a primary sales channel and customers are very unforgiving over a poor experience," said Erwan Paccard, Solution Marketing Manager Mobile & Omni-channel at Dynatrace. "During the run up to the biggest sales period of the year, this signifies a huge risk to retailers. Digital channels demand an equally strong level of planning and commitment as physical stores. The good news is, when they are well executed, websites and mobile apps barely need additional staff on duty for this important period."

When looking at shopping habits, the research showed that consumers are taking an increasingly multichannel approach to their buying habits. This is not just in terms of how they choose to actually purchase items, but along the whole buyer journey from selection to gratification. Specifically, we can see the following:

  • Consumers take a multichannel approach to shopping: 31% UK smartphone owners will combine mobile, online and in-store.
  • Shoppers supplement in-store experience with mobile: Over half (56%) of UK smartphone owners said they will use their smartphone or tablet to compare prices, download coupons and read reviews whilst shopping in-store. Comparable figures apply in Germany, France and the US.
  • Young shoppers more likely to use mobiles while in-store: 64% of UK respondents aged 16-34 said they would search for deals on their mobile while in-store, compared to just 36% of 55-64 year olds, suggesting that it is a trend that will grow over time.
  • Browsing in-store to buy online a significant trend: 61% of consumers said that they are likely to browse for products in-store, which they will later purchase on their smartphone, tablet or laptop; again, this figure grew to 65% amongst the 25-44 age bracket.

The research also looked into how people prefer to shop and browse when using their mobile. Here we can see:

  • Mobile websites beat apps in Europe, but not the US: 39% of UK respondents prefer using mobile apps over mobile websites. In the US, the reverse is true, as mobile apps are preferred by 56%.
  • Things could be changing for the UK: 56% of UK respondents aged 16-24 prefer apps to mobile websites, aligning with US data. Preferences also differ between regions, with Londoners showing the biggest inclination towards apps (48%).

"As a retailer, you really can't think of your customers as web, or mobile or in-store; they are probably using all three. The US is often a key indicator of where the market is going in terms of technology adoption and consumer behaviour," Paccard concludes. "From the adoption of mobile apps over mobile websites, through to the growing use of mobile in all aspects of the buyer journey, mobile is a strategic medium for retailers. Yet the research shows that customer expectations vary across geographies with a general trend towards a multichannel approach; combining online, mobile and in-store in order to find the best deals. As such, brands need to think carefully about their digital strategy across channels to ensure they deliver a seamless and consistent experience to customers, regardless of how they choose to shop and browse."

Survey Methodology: The UK research was conducted by TNS, surveying 2,470 smartphone owners. The US research by Harris Poll surveyed 2,014 adults, of which 1,353 are smartphone/tablet owners. The German research run by Toluna surveyed 1,000 smartphone/tablet owners, and the French survey run by Opinea included 1,028 adult participants with access to the mobile internet.

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