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As few as 4% of UK consumers find m-commerce pain free, finds Brandbank/YouGov survey

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Oh dear. While great things are expected of – and written about – m-commerce, the vast majority of brands are losing sales and failing to meet UK consumers’ expectations when it comes to actually offering these services, with just 4% of consumers finds the mobile purchasing process hassle free, according to the 2010 Brandbank M-commerce Content Report, which polled 2,255 British consumers with YouGov.

Brandbank’s 2010 Report shows some major attitudinal differences between consumers that own smartphones (21%) and those who don’t (79%), but the overall trend is one of dissatisfaction with current mobile offerings. Only 4% of UK consumers claim they find making purchases via their mobile device hassle free, while just 12% claim that they don’t find anything irritating about their mobile browsing experience.

The report reveals that as many as 64% of UK adults claim never to use their phone to help them shop, but this figure masks a major significant difference between those that own smartphones and those who don’t. Of all non-smartphone owners, 85% claim they never use their phone to help them shop compared to 19% of all smartphone owners.

While very few non-smartphone owners use their phones at all in their shopping behaviour, the most common way smartphone owners use their devices is in purchasing products directly online, via their mobile browser (47%). The next most common smartphone uses are reading products ratings or reviews online (40%), finding out additional information from a retailer’s website (36%), comparing prices online (34%) and searching for nearby high street stores (28%). A quarter said they make purchases using specially downloaded applications.

Although online purchases may be the most popular way that consumers use smartphones to help them shop, just 15% of owners say that they find the process hassle free, with 18% saying they find it positively difficult and time consuming.

When asked which aspects of their m-commerce experience they found to be irritating, the most frequent response was being forced to zoom in and out to view all the information on a web page (47%). This was followed by having to wait for images to load on a page (43%) and being unable to see images, videos or hear audio (39%).

Usability issues also appeared to be a concern, with 38% of people being irritated by the amount of information (such as credit card details, delivery address etc.) they have to enter via their key pad or touch screen, while 25% were put off by the number of different pages they have to click through to make a payment.

Rob Tarrant, Managing Director at Brandbank and co-chairman of the GS1 Image Standards Working Group, says: “Although m-commerce is developing faster than it has done for some time, the reality is that, like the child in the back of the car’s complaint ‘are we there yet?’, most of the industry is still uncertain as to when it will take off. The findings from our 2010 report confirm what we know from our conversations with our partners – there is still some way to go before m-commerce becomes mainstream. Even for smartphone owners, there are just too many problems with the ways consumers currently access mobile content. Shoppers typically have to access web pages which were originally designed for large rather than small screens and frequently face loading and display issues with the product data and imagery.”

“Retailers and suppliers need to realise that they cannot just re-use traditional online images – the imaging process used to develop a mobile platform is wholly different. Entirely different media specifications and sizes are required as well as alternative display techniques, better suited to the small screen, such as box-outs, hover boxes and embedding information into an image.”

The report reveals that retailers face a serious risk of customer churn as a result of poor mobile offerings. When consumers were asked what their typical response would be to a negative mcommerce experience (such as slow loading times or not being able to see all the appropriate product information), 35% claim they would simply conduct an internet search for the product they were interested in, while 23% say they would look directly at another retailer’s website.

Just 10% of consumers claim that would try to reload page more than once, 25% say they would try the page again but wouldn’t try twice while 25% say they would never revisit that retailer’s website again on their mobile phone.

Tarrant continued: “The cost for getting your mobile offering wrong can be severe. Mobile browsers exhibit very little loyalty and one bad experience can be enough to put them off ever coming back to you. Retailers and suppliers need ensure they have clear processes for working together to maintain up-to-date imagery and data, with different specifications for different types of mobile platforms, for all of their products.”

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