M-Commerce Report Contradicted By Its Own Numbers

Written by Frank Hayes
January 18th, 2012

Want to drive customers to all your retail channels? Give them a more satisfying Mobile-Commerce site—at least that’s what one analyst says. In a study released on January 12, ForeSee argued that only Apple and Amazon have M-Commerce sites that really stand out for customer satisfaction. Customers said the Web sites of other big chains are better than their mobile sites, which hurts the chains’ ability to get customers to return through any channel.

It’s a fine theory. Trouble is, it doesn’t actually seem to work for most of the 16 retailers that ForeSee looked at, ranging from Best Buy and eBay to Avon and Target.

According to the study, consumers rated almost all of the retailers’ mobile sites as less satisfying than their Web sites. Only Apple’s M-Commerce effort got higher ratings than its Web site, with a mobile score of 85 out of 100 and a Web score of 83. (Apple doesn’t have a mobile Web site, so ForeSee asked customers how satisfied they were with the Apple Store app.) Right behind Apple was Amazon, with a mobile score of 84 and Web satisfaction at 88.

Those two were trailed by Dell, Netflix, eBay, Best Buy, Staples, Avon, Barnes & Noble, Home Depot, Victoria’s Secret, Toys”R”Us, Blockbuster, Target, Wal-Mart and Sears, all with mobile satisfaction scores in the 70s. (ForeSee’s average score for most companies’ mobile sites, including non-retail companies, is 67, so none of these big retailers was a complete embarrassment.)

The numbers are interesting but, like most analysts, ForeSee has a theory: Retailers must make sure customer satisfaction levels are the same across all channels, and if M-Commerce satisfaction lags E-Commerce it will hurt the likelihood that customers will come back to any channel—including brick-and-mortar stores. In short, mobile metrics are the key to returning customers everywhere.

Unfortunately, playing that type of metrics game can be a trap that distorts your best efforts to make sense of how a retailer’s different channels interact. For example, Amazon is one of the retailers whose mobile satisfaction significantly lags its Web site rating. But Amazon is still the #2 mobile site in the survey. Why? Because Amazon’s Web site satisfaction is through the roof. And customers say they’re highly likely to return to Amazon through either mobile or other channels.

But Amazon is special. ForeSee also specifically called out Wal-Mart and Avon for failing to keep their customers’ mobile and Web satisfaction aligned:

“The largest gaps between Web satisfaction and mobile satisfaction are for Avon, with a gap of eight points, and Walmart, with a gap of seven points. A large gap indicates that customer needs are not being met nearly as well in the mobile experience as they are online. Unless companies improve their mobile shopping capabilities, this gap is likely to become a larger problem for companies as more of the population becomes mobile savvy and expectations for the mobile experience rise. Customers expect the same high-quality experience on a mobile site as they do on a Web site, and companies that do not deliver could see long term brand affinity and loyalty suffer,” the report said.

But wait—why exactly is there such a big gap between Avon’s Web and mobile satisfaction ratings?


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