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Joining up the channels

Giving shoppers a good customer experience depends on consistency across sales channels

RETAILERS STOOD OUT in the Mobile and Cross-channel Performance Dimension by delivering fast mobile experiences. Multichannel retailers effectively linked their services in different sales channels to deliver the seamless customer experience that shoppers now demand. At a time when mobile is growing in importance, the InternetRetailing research team wanted to test how far multichannel retailers were building links between mobile, the store and other sales channels, and how pureplay traders are enabling on-the-go shopping within their mix of shopping channels.

Researchers analysed retailers’ use of apps as part of their customer service, as well as considering the speed of the service they offered, measuring page load speeds and, with the help of InternetRetailing Knowledge Partner BuiltWith, how closely sites adhered to mobile web standards.

By segmenting retailers into pureplay and multichannel traders, the team aimed to draw a picture of how retailers are working towards a single view of the customer, and to offering customers a consistent experience.

What the Top500 do: mobile websites

The Top500 European retailers all have a fast and efficient online presence. On average, their mobile websites had a PageSpeed score (which analyses how quickly and efficiently a web page loads) of 82.5. Average speeds varied slightly by market: retailers trading in Denmark had the highest PageSpeed score, at 86, followed by the Netherlands at 85, and Sweden, Belgium, Austria and Switzerland, all at 84.

BuiltWith research showed how closely retailers adhered to mobile web standards, and found the highest standards among Top500 retailers selling in Norway, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and Denmark.

BonPrix, which operates 21 country and language-specific websites, stood out for fast web loading times across its sites, in nearly seven seconds. The average PageSpeed score reached 79. Within that business, its Swiss and German sites scored 93 out of 100, while the BonPrix France home page loaded in 1.8s – although the Lithuanian and Estonian sites lagged some way behind.

Albert Heijn, with sites in the Netherlands and Belgium, scored highly in the website performance index and achieved 95 out of 100 for PageSpeed score on mobile. The site loaded in 7.6s, thanks to a light page size of 530kb.

What the Top500 do: mobile apps

Top500 retailers offered an average of four country-specific apps, both Android and iOS.

Some 55% of the Top500 had iOS apps, while 49% had Android apps, and 30% of all Top500 retailers had transactional iOS apps. Researchers focused on this group of apps in the research because it was the larger group and because Android apps tended to replicate the features of the iOS apps.

Some 19% of Top500 retailers offered native shopping through iOS apps, enabling browsing in the app rather than on the website, a feature that rates highly in this analysis because of the improved performance that is enabled. Then, 29% offered push notifications and 8% daily deals. A quarter (25%) had a store finder, and 10% a store stock checker, while 18% had a barcode scanner. Zoomable images were enabled by 22%, while 23% offered multiple product images. Just over one in 10 (13%) enabled shoppers to post written reviews, while 20% supported social media sharing. Some 42% offered the ability to save a product for later in a wishlist, while 43% offered the chance to sign-in. Customers could filter by product type on 24% of iOS apps, and by brand on 28%.

In-app localisation was enabled by a minority, with 13% offering a country or language selector and just 1.5% a currency selector: this last feature tended, rather, to be hardcoded to the country.

The Nordic group of companies, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland, ranked highly in app development, as a group boasting 14.5% more apps than in the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Spain. More retailers provided an iOS app for the UK and German markets, but the average number of iOS apps that retailers provided was 21% higher in Sweden and Denmark. Top500 retailers provided more Android apps than iOS ones in both Poland (8% of retailers provided more Android apps than iOS apps in Poland) and Hungary (16%).

The analysis of app performance recognised Czech general merchandise retailer Alza for dedicated iOS and Android apps in the UK, Czech Republic, Slovakia, German and Austrian markets. Its pan-European Alzashop app is available in Android and iOS to shoppers in 23 EEA countries and features include predictive search and payment through fingerprint ID.

Fnac, the high tech to entertainment retailer, was highly rated for its iOS and Android app, designed for the French market but allowing users to switch language to English. The transactional app includes daily deals, wishlist and scanners to read both barcodes and QR codes and lets users leave product reviews. Most users of the Fnac iOS app are from France, Belgium and Spain, while the biggest audiences for its Android app are in France, Spain, Belgium and Portugal.

What the Top500 do: cross-channel shopping

Across the Top500, 52% offered some form of collection service, while 32% enable shopper to return their online purchases to a store.

UK department store House of Fraser performed strongly in the cross-channel sub-dimension thanks to a service offer that promises delivery to all 32 countries in the market with standard delivery in eight days and express in three, with the exception of Bulgaria. It enables cross-channel services, including next-day in-store collection and the return of online purchases to a convenient House of Fraser store.

Others that stood out for cross-channel services included electricals retailer Darty, with the promise of click and collect within an hour in all its French stores. A fast click-and-collect service was also provided by Matalan , River Island and Smythes. Lingerie-to-swimwear trader Hunkemöller offers free click and collect from its Dutch, Belgian and German websites, while click and collect is also free at Matalan.

River Island offered both expedited and standard click and collect services. The expedited service sees parcels delivered in two days to third-party collection shops, and stores around the UK, while the standard service is free.

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