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Helping shoppers buy wherever they are

Apps that linked store and online stood out in this Dimension

ON-THE-GO SHOPPERS can use their smartphones or tablet computers to research and shop the range easily when they use the mobile app or website operated by a leading retailer in the Mobile & Cross-channel Performance Dimension. They’re also able to use cross-channel services, such as returning online purchases to the store, store stock checkers, and click-and-collect services, that enable them to shop in the way that’s most convenient for them at any given point in their day.

InternetRetailing researchers, in partnership with InternetRetailing Knowledge Partner Poq , judged performance in this Dimension through 25 metrics chosen to reflect a dynamic and sophisticated mobile app strategy. This research focused on the 204 Top500 retailers that offered iOS apps. Metrics relating to apps included whether they enable customers to change currency or language, to manage their loyalty card from the app, to check stock or to scan products, whether in-store or at home, using a barcode scanner. Also measured were apps’ use of varied product images, whether they offered a native shopping experience, sent push notifications and enabled shoppers to buy online. Wishlists, product ratings, reviews and other features were also taken into account. The speed and engineering of mobile websites was gauged, in collaboration with Knowledge Partner NCC Group , with nine metrics. Finally, multichannel retailers were assessed on how their stores tied into their ecommerce offerings.

Martin Shaw, head of research at InternetRetailing, says: “In this Dimension, we can see whether Top500 retailers are using mobile as a way to bridge the store and online, or whether they are operating mobile apps, websites and stores in isolation. In this Dimension, we reward those that make the most of their app, while also providing mobile websites that download quickly. That’s important since shoppers are less likely to want to wait for a site to load when they are moving around or on a mobile data connection.”

What the Top500 do

More than a third (37%) of the 423 retailers considered in this part of the analysis had Android apps while 41% had iOS apps. The latter are analysed in detail in this Dimension simply because retailers are more likely to have them, and because where a retailer has both, the apps tend to offer a very similar experience.

Some 63% of iOS apps were transactional, with more than a third (37%) not transactional. Just under half of retailers (47%) enabled shoppers to find a store through their app, while 17% had store stock checkers, although only six retailers (3%) added extra features to those stock checkers.

At the cutting edge, retailers are enabling shoppers to use their loyalty cards via the app in a way that can link the store and online very effectively. In this research, only 4% enabled app users to create a new loyalty account via the app, but more (9%) enabled them to enter details of an existing loyalty card or to scan their card (8%). A third (33%) had barcode scanning functionality.

More than half (52%) of iOS apps used push notifications and 28% offered daily deals within the app.

When it comes to viewing products, 53% offered more than one image, while 50% enabled users to zoom in on the images. Only two retailers (1%) enabled shoppers to Like products on social media from the app, while 44% enabled shoppers to share them on social media. More than a quarter (27%) showed ratings and 26% offered written product reviews.

Mobile websites took an average of 8.9s to download, becoming visually complete in 8.1s. Pages were an average of 2.2MB in size, while the median was 1.7MB.

More than half (57%) of the 469 retailers for whom this metric was relevant enabled shoppers to collect their online purchases from a store, locker or third-party location, while more than a third (37%) enabled goods bought online to be returned to store.

What the leaders do

Retailers that stand out in the Mobile & Cross-channel Performance Dimension do so when they consistently perform in the metrics that apply to their kind of retail, and when they offer services that go well beyond the average.

Tesco, a leader in this Dimension, scores highly because it is one of the few retailers that enabled shoppers to create a new loyalty account through its mobile app. Researchers found users could also scan existing loyalty cards and enter loyalty card details in the app. It also scored highly for both personalisation and searchandising.

Sainsbury’s offered an Android app as well as an iOS app, offered daily deals and also enabled shoppers to enter loyalty card details. Shoppers using the M&S app can scan a loyalty card, enter loyalty card details and read written reviews of products. It scored highly for in-app search relevance.

The Asda and Boots apps both showed product reviews and star ratings, while Boots shoppers can enter loyalty card details, and Asda shoppers enjoy daily deals. The Boots app also scored highly for searchandising.

Dorothy Perkins , Apple , Topshop , Holland & Barrett and House of Fraser all performed well above their weight, as defined in the Top500 Footprint. Dorothy Perkins did so thanks to relatively unusual set of app features that included a store stock checker, daily deals and a barcode scanner.

Apple also had a store stock checker on its iOS app, while additional features included written product reviews and star ratings. It scored highly for searchandising.

House of Fraser offered a sophisticated stock checker. It also scored highly for personalisation and searchandising. Topshop had a store checker, daily deals and a barcode scanner. Holland & Barrett enabled shoppers to enter loyalty card details and to scan their cards; it also had an Android app.

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