A new report from dotCommerce confirms what many might suspect about mobile users; they are impatient and have short attention spans.
However, it also reveals that most retailers haven’t taken this on board when optimising their site for mobile use, causing them to lose out on sales and damaging their brand.
The report also found that a majority of mobile sites are incompatible with Android and Blackberry devices.
dotCommerce assessed 12 UK retailers that ranked in the top three of Google searches for cosmetics, footwear, cookware and fragrances, all of which were tested using Android, Blackberry and iPhone devices.
Each site was marked against 22 criteria across eight categories such as ease of use, security and integration with other marketing.
Argos and Office scored highly in this category thanks to a meta title and description displaying well across all devices.
The report found that search is even more important on mobile than on desktop, since users have less patience and smaller screens, meaning that short but compelling explanations of products are vital.
On a mobile device the first two search results, which are paid advertisements, are far more likely to receive clicks - so PPC campaigns are essential to boosting click-through rates.
Argos scored full marks for its landing page, while New Look also scored highly despite the fact that it doesn't load properly within Android.
Unsurprisingly the sites that scored well in this category had dedicated mobile sites, which is integral for customer engagement and low bounce rates.
Brands lost marks on Android and Blackberry for having pixelated images, or for having sites where researchers had to zoom in to be able to read the page.
Just under half of the sites, including cosmetics retailer Bobbi Brown, scored top marks in this category which suggests that retailers focus a lot of energy on ensuring that their sites are easy to use.
Speed and ease of use are crucial for ensuring a positive customer experience, which is why Boots lost marks as it had several layers to click through before you see a product page.
The golden rule of 'no more than three clicks before you find a product page' is probably more important than ever, since mobile users want everything in an instant.
The average score in this category was only 50%, though several retailers achieved high scores for offering a convenient and quick search function.
Boots, Estee Lauder and Bobbi Brown were rated highly for supplying a prominent, easy-to-use search bar.
The report recommends that retailers include a search function at the top of every page to make navigation easier, and encourages the use of filters to make it easier to narrow search results.
The brands that scored well in this category ensured their pages featured several product images and allowed the customer to easily edit product attributes and add it to their shopping basket.
Boots was a top scorer again as it offered a colour picker and advertised special offers.
Retailers also need to be aware of potential pitfalls, as Office’s site offered 360 degree images but since it uses Flash - iPhone users couldn’t view the products.
The average score in this category was a paltry 27%, with the researchers being either unwilling or unable to complete a purchase on any of the sites using Android.
Of the 12 sites surveyed, only Boots enabled users to complete a purchase on 2 out of 3 of the devices.
Common issues encountered were blank screen on Blackberry and error messages or security warnings on Android. Security warnings undermine a users trust and can lead to drop-outs and abandoned baskets.
The retailers performed much better on iPhone, but with Android devices making up 52% of the smartphone market there is work to be done to make sure they don’t lose out on potential mobile sales.
You can read our tips on how to optimise your checkout here.
This was the lowest scoring category due to the inability of the researchers to make payments on several of the devices.
The overall average score was 22%, although on iPhone the average score was 2 out of 3 suggesting that the confirmation page is being put to good use when users can actually get through to it.
Bobbi Brown scored well in this category as it offered additional products at order confirmation.
Delivery and returns
Boots, Office, Argos and The Fragrance House scored well in this category as they all had visible call to actions for email address sign up and easy to access delivery and returns information.
As with desktop browsing, the report says it is important for customers to be reassured with easy-to-find details on when they can expect to receive their goods and what to do if they need to return it.
Unsurprisingly retailers with mobile dedicated sites performed best in the survey, but most still have some way to go before they are providing an enjoyable shopping experience for mobile customers.
Boots came out on top with a score of 75% while The Perfume Shop came last with 45%.
dotCommerce concludes that the shopping experience on Blackberry and Android smartphones is basic at best, and both brand-damaging and revenue impacting at worst.
Mobile customers are likely to be more affluent, have more disposable income and more digitally savvy, so optimising websites for mobiles should be a priority for retailers.
You can find out which of the top 50 retailers have mobile sites on our piece from earlier this year.