Serving on-the-go customers (IRUK 2016)
Leading retailers use mobile to create seamless customer experiences across channels:
Mobile is paradoxically both cross-channel glue and lubricant, which makes the customer journey across retail touchpoints smoother and frictionless. The Mobile and Cross-channel Performance Dimension seeks to pinpoint those traders that are most effectively using mobile at the heart of their cross-channel activity, integrating it into all parts of their activity, from the store to online. In 2016, just having apps is no longer enough and in this Dimension we focus on mobile used to the end of commercial effectiveness.
House of Fraser tops the Mobile and Cross-channel Dimension for the quality of its app and of its cross-channel services. The retailer’s app effectively links online and the store. The inclusion of augmented reality gives it a cutting-edge advantage while YouTube videos scored it extra marks.
“By any reckoning, House of Fraser’s app is impressive for the way it links channels and offers customers a single view of the products it sells,” says InternetRetailing senior researcher Martin Shaw . “But our analysis with Poq went further and found it was a real workhorse for the sheer number of features that were delivered reliably without the bugs that plagued so many rivals.”
Zara’s ability to link store and web effectively, through its app and related digital services, as well as strong mobile web performance, helped it to second place in this Dimension. The html load time of its mobile homepage was less than 0.5s and the page contained just 12 elements.
Amazon was the third in this Dimension. Its html homepage loaded in just over a second, and was fully loaded in between three and four seconds – despite having as many as 35 page elements. Amazon’s app scored highly, with cutting edge features including fingerprint ID sign-in. As with all the top apps, it included comprehensive reviews and the ability to share products on social media.
Changes in this Dimension’s rankings come as InternetRetailing researchers have further refined their analysis. With the help of Knowledge Partner Poq , this year’s analysis considers how effectively retailers use mobile apps. It also considers retailers’ use of mobile websites, thanks to data from Knowledge Partner GTmetrix , and takes into account cross-channel retailers’ use of cross-channel app features and services such as click and collect.
The use of mobile apps as a retail tool is growing steadily. InternetRetailing research found that 36% of IRUK Top500 retailers now have iOS apps – up from 34% in our 2015 study. Android apps, measured for the first time, were in use by 30% of listed retailers. Just over a fifth (23%) of Top500 retailers had a transactional app, and 20% had native apps. But while the use is getting more widespread, their performance is variable. Almost half of the apps had some sort of bug that influenced how well they performed. The effect of those bugs varied: while some froze, others crashed, showed an empty home screen or were simply unavailable in English.
Anonymised Poq analysis of retailers using its app platform aimed to uncover how far different features contributed to conversion. InternetRetailing research then matched the findings to use of those features among the Top500.
The most common feature detected was the ability to view a wishlist from the app. Poq analysis suggests apps with this feature have a conversion rate 1.8 times the platform average, browsing time that’s 3.5 times longer, and have an average order value of 0.95, where the average is 1.0. Eighty, or 16%, of the Top500 retailers had this feature, and it featured on 45% of iOS apps.
Another popular feature among IRUK Top500 retailers’ apps is the ability to share on social media. Poq analysis shows apps with this feature have a conversion rate that is 3.7 times the platform average, browsing time that’s 4.6 times longer and an average order value 1.05 of the platform average. In all, 70, or 14% of Top500 retailers have this feature on mobile apps.
With the rise of mobile commerce – 45% of website visits came from a mobile device in the third quarter of 2015, according to IMRG data – many Top500 retailers have moved to design first for mobile. By adopting responsive design and streamlining the number and size of page elements, they ensure their sites will load quickly and are easy to navigate from a touch-based mobile device. Through analysis conducted with Knowledge Partner GTmetrix, InternetRetailing researchers aimed to find out how large the IRUK Top500 retailers’ web pages were and how quickly they would load on a mobile device, first in terms of the html content, and then a full page load. The measurements, repeated for each website on a range of different days and at different times, concluded that the average time for a mobile homepage to fully load was more than 10 seconds, and the average size was 2.3MB. The fastest performance was Superdrug . Its full homepage loaded in under a second.
“We found that towards the top in terms of performance and how quickly people could use the site tended to have a more streamlined approach with fewer page elements and smaller pages,” says Shaw. Analysis by BuiltWith revealed that 80% of the retailers analysed had the viewport meta mobile web standard that tells a web browser how to adapt screen size to the device being used.
Mobile is arguably at its most effective when cross-channel retailers link the on-the-go web in the shopper’s pocket to the physical store. Of the IRUK Top500, 348 are cross-channel retailers. Through analysis of features such as the ability to check location of the nearest store, and to check its stock, as well as click-and-collect services and whether shoppers can return their online purchases to the store, researchers identified a leading pack of 50 retailers that offered all of these service. Among them was Argos , which last year headed the Mobile and Cross-channel Performance Dimension. “If retailers are to meet customers’ growing expectations of seamless service, they must present a single, consistent view of their brand to customers,” says Shaw. “We found that 50 retailers have got this right in 2016.”