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GUEST COMMENT Don’t let poor user experience muffle the 4G ecommerce boom

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by Shane Fitzpatrick

The widespread roll-out of 4G services across the UK may radically accelerate the demand for mobile commerce but user experience remains a concern. Retailers now need to ensure every step from browsing new offers to payment is optimised for smartphone users.

In August, several mobile providers launched their 4G services, while others said they will soon offer unlimited 4G data packages in London, Birmingham and Manchester in December. The fires of intense marketing and competition have been lit. The resulting heat may drive continued smartphone adoption by consumers and encourage everyday activities to be conducted via mobile.

A survey conducted by Chase Paymentech showed that nearly two thirds of UK consumers changed their shopping habits in the previous 12 months. Ecommerce continues to grow in popularity, with 41 per cent of consumers saying that they use the internet to make purchases more than they did a year ago. The report suggests that mobile commerce (‘m-commerce’) has now become the fastest growing channel, with 30 per cent of those aged 25-34 already falling in love with their mobile device and finding their mobile to be the easiest way to shop [Source: Dynamic Markets: The Changing CNP Landscape, March 2012].

The inevitable move towards more multichannel retail raises a series of challenges, in particular the integration of m-commerce sites with e-commerce and legacy IT systems. Looking forward, four in ten multichannel retailers agree that they will always be in a state of continual evolution and constant change [Source: Chase Paymentech/Dynamic Markets – Putting Customers First? March 2013]. For a successful ecommerce evolution, retailers will need a dedicated m-commerce strategy with a strong focus on improving the customer’s online shopping experience.

So will m-commerce render other shopping channels obsolete? Unlikely. A priority for retailers is to help shoppers add and save items to their shopping cart from their mobile, enabling them to pay later using their laptop or desktop computer. For example, adding a simple login to an ecommerce site could enable customers to switch between multiple devices as part of a seamless shopping experience.

Meanwhile, there are still major customer experience hurdles to be overcome. When it comes to m-commerce, 93 per cent of tablet users have reported feeling frustrated by the experience– and this has resulted in over two in every three of them abandoning an online purchase at the checkout stage [Source: Chase Paymentech/Dynamic Markets – Putting Customers First? March 2013]. Mobile retailers should invest in order to provide a seamless payment process that is optimised for a smaller mobile screen.

Any m-commerce site needs to work just as well on a touchscreen as it does with a mouse or keyboard and it is critical to ensure that the payment process is also simple. Data from Chase Paymentech revealed that 25% of consumers often find it too difficult to enter payment details on their mobile phone. [Source: Dynamic Markets: The Changing CNP Payment Landscape, March 2012].

Retailers have no control over how common verification methods such as Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode are displayed on a mobile device. Keeping the number of elements that need to be downloaded to a minimum as well as ensuring your payment provider offers a single, efficient round-trip to the server to complete a purchase could help avoid customer frustrations.

There is a common misconception that mobile channels are less secure than other online channels. While it is true to say that criminals will always try to exploit any new opportunity to commit fraud, there is no reason to believe that mobile devices are more prone to fraud. An obvious place to start addressing fraud concerns would be using your payment data to identify fraud trends broken down by sales channel.

Ultimately, shopping by mobile or another online channel should be easier than visiting a physical store. The 4G boom will create new opportunities for retailers to engage with customers around the country, wherever they are, and a poor user experience may lead to many lost sales.

Retailers should optimise their sales and payments strategy to deliver a seamless customer experience. After all, customers are not expected to type in their card number, CVV security code, expiry date and billing address every time they buy something in a high street shop. Online merchants should aspire to the same level of ease for their customers across the mobile channel.

Shane Fitzpatrick is president and managing director of Chase Paymentech Europe.

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