The smartphone is the device that binds together multichannel retail. Since Europe’s highest-performing retailers already understand this, they plan their strategies accordingly
Retailers that stand out in the IREU Top500 Mobile and Cross-channel Performance Dimension do so because they enable shoppers to browse and buy easily from a smartphone or other mobile device, and to use that device to bridge the gap between the store and online.
RetailX researchers focused on how retailers designed mobile websites, mobile iOS apps and multichannel services. The research compares findings taken in mid-2018 with those made in early 2017, in order to understand how the services offered by individual retailers, and by the Top500 retailers as a group, have developed over that time.
It’s in multichannel returns that the biggest changes among leading European retailers can be seen. The biggest change comes as almost half (49%) now enable customers to return their online orders to the stores. That’s up from just 19% last year, and represents a dramatic 30 percentage point (pp) change. The ability to return ecommerce orders by dropping them off at a location run by a third-party has also grown, by 8pp to 22%.
Click and collect is also growing fast. The service is now offered by 44% of the Top500 – an increase of 24pp since last year. This option is more likely to be offered by retailers selling entertainment, with 67% of music, film and TV retailers offering it. It’s also widespread among those selling books (64%), health products (64%) and homewares (64%), but least common among software retailers (36%). Grocers that offer the service are among the fastest at getting an order ready to collect – retailers that sell drink, grocery and ready-made food do so in a median of 24 hours. This falls to 72 hours among those selling fashion clothing and footwear.
Analysed by market, click and collect is most common in the UK, where 63% of retailers selling in this market offer the service. That’s followed by France and the Netherlands (both 61%) and least common in Slovenia (16%), Croatia (24%) and Bulgaria (26%). Same-day collection is most common amongst Top500 retailers delivering to Ireland (18%) and France (15%). In Luxembourg, Croatia, Hungary, Portugal, Bulgaria and Sweden, fewer than 5% of Top500 companies offer this service.
Almost half of retailers now enable customers to return their online orders to the stores
There’s been a shift in the type of apps that retailers offer, with Android apps overtaking iOS apps. More than two-thirds (70%) of retailers built their apps on the Android operating system, up from 62% in last year’s research.
Meanwhile the number of retailers offering iOS apps has increased by three percentage points to 68%. Some features have become more popular among retailers that had an iOS app both last year and this year. More than a third (35%) now have native shopping, up by 3pp from last year, more than half (54%, +5pp) have a store finder, and almost two-thirds (65%, +4pp) offer push notifications.
When analysed by sector, retailers selling groceries and drinks are the most likely to have both an Android app – found in 97% of grocery retailers and 91% of those selling drinks – and an iOS app (90% of those selling groceries and 82% of those selling drinks). Android apps are also common among those selling ready made food (89%) and cosmetics (82%) but less common among those selling stationery and craft (69%), fashion clothing (69%) and footwear (71%). iOS apps were more often found among those selling sports and leisure clothing (80%) and least often among those selling stationery and craft (59%), home and industrial appliances (61%) and children’s toys and accessories (64%).
Thirteen per cent of homewares traders feature augmented reality in their iOS app. To put that into context, most categories have no retailers using the functionality. Store finders are usually found in iOS apps built by multichannel retailers that sell grocery (70%), ready-made food (69%) and drink (64%), contrasting with those that sell stationery and craft (25%) and automotive goods (32%).
Across the Top500, mobile websites are slower in 2017, as benchmarked using the industry-recognised Speed Index metric and measured by InternetRetailing Knowledge Partner Eggplant. It’s likely that pages have got larger with more assets to download.
The largest mobile landing pages were found in the Lithuanian (2.6MB), Greek (2.4MB) and UK (2.4MB) markets, while the smallest, and so fastest to load, were found in Luxembourg (1.5MB), Austria (1.6MB) and the Netherlands (1.6MB).
Amazon stands out in this Dimension for a flexible approach to multichannel retailing that helps it overcome a lack of stores in this market, offering pick-up from its own lockers and third-party sites across Europe. Argos offers an easy integration of online and offline, enabling fast-track collection as well as enabling customers of other retailers to collect from its stores. Coop Switzerland has a wide range of Android and iOS apps, including a shopping, loyalty, wine club and healthy living apps. Dutch wine and spirits retailer Gall & Gall has a fast mobile site that performs strongly in RetailX research.
Hornbach, which sells in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Nordics, pulls off the feat of being both pan-European at the same time as local, offering services such as click and collect within many of the regions it serves as well as offering both Android and iOS apps.