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Seamless service

Brands are taking practical steps to enable customers to buy goods, as well as to take delivery of them, in ways that fit around busy lifestyles

Retail brands that excel in the Mobile & Cross-channel Performance Dimension are those that work to offer seamless service across channels. This means analysing how customers interact with the brand across different channels and focusing in particular on the following areas:

• Collection options

• Returns options

• Mobile apps

• Optimised mobile web performance

Our research focused on these areas and how brands are doing now. However, it’s also important to note that work in these areas helps to prepare businesses for what lies ahead in an era when customers will become impatient at any instances of friction between channels. Before looking in more detail at our findings, a note on our methodology. The results refer to retail brands in the IRBX Europe Largest 250 that have localised to specific regions. So, for example, the 41% that offer collection in France refers to the 56 brands we analysed within the territory.


Overall, it’s becoming the norm for retailers in the EEA to enable collection, with 52% of the brands we analysed offering this service. Brands in the UK (55%), Netherlands (52%) and Spain (50%) lead the way here. However, it’s worth noting that the sheer number of retailers that operate in the UK somewhat skews the figures. To put this in context, the equivalent figure in Sweden is 32%, while in Portugal it’s 26% and in Switzerland 24%. When it comes to same-day collection, this more sophisticated offering is far less commonplace. Across the EEA, it’s offered by a weighted average of 10% of the Largest 250, although brands in some territories do better than the average: Germany (17%), France (13%), the UK (11%) and Spain (11%). Surprisingly, even next-day collection is still only widely available in western Europe, offered by 32% of brands localised to Spain, 30% to the UK and 26% to France, against an EEA average of 29%.

There’s also room for improvement in reserve-and-collect services, offered by a weighted average of 8% of the Largest 250 within the EEA. Brands in Germany (22%), France (17%), Belgium (13%) and Spain (11%) do better here, with those in Germany and the Netherlands offering the quickest standard times until an item is ready to collect – three days against a weighted average for the EEA of four days – the same figure as for Belgium and the UK.

Returns across channels

Customers want to be able to return items quickly and easily. Here, brands with a UK presence lead the way, with 42% of the brands we surveyed offering a return-to-store service for ecommerce orders. Other leading territories include Spain (39%), Poland (36%), Belgium (33%) and Sweden (33%).

Turning to brands offering return via drop-off at a third-party location, this is a service offered by 26% of the UK localised brands we measured, followed by brands in Sweden (14%), Denmark (13%) and Belgium (13%). The equivalent figure within the EEA is 19%. We would expect the number of brands offering this service to increase in the year ahead as, for example, lockers at transport hubs become more commonplace.

Mobile apps

An increasing recognition of the importance of apps is reflected in the growth of the number of brands offering Android and iOS apps. In the UK, for example, 38% of brands offered an Android app when we measured in 2017, a figure that had grown by 12 percentage points (pp) to 50% in our most recent research. The year-on-year growth in the UK for the number of brands offering an iOS app was 10pp, from 45% to 55%.

In other territories, the headline figures were far less impressive, but this is a case where our methodology has an impact in that we have measured the performance of more brands in the UK than elsewhere. In the Netherlands, for example, the figures for the number of brands offering an Android app (88%) and an iOS app (94%) didn’t change between 2017 and 2018.

Mobile web

Page size and load time on mobile are important because consumers on the go won’t wait for pages to load and will move to another site or app. Mobile data networks across the Single Market vary according to reliability, coverage and speed. The Largest 250’s median mobile page size is 2.4MB, the same figure as in Germany and the UK. The figure is lower in other territories, notably the Czech Republic (1.6MB), Sweden (1.6MB) and Ireland (1.4MB). Brands localised to Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic and France demonstrated the fastest load times on a mobile browser of their homepages using the Speed Index aggregate metric as measured by Knowledge Partner NCC Group .

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