The mobile opportunity

Econsultancy’s Christmas 2012 Online Shopping Survey found that 28% of US and 24% of UK respondents has used a mobile or tablet for Christmas shopping. 

Q: Did you use a mobile or tablet for Christmas shopping? 

Companies can improve their mobile experiences if they understand their customers’ mobile expectations. While we all know mobile shopping was a huge success in the 2012 season in terms of actual financial figures, the real question is, what exactly did customers think and say about the mobile buying experience?

According to the IBM Social Sentiment Index, which assessed customer sentiment during the 2012 shopping season, consumers were excited about shopping at the swipe of a finger, with more than 63% of customers talking about mobile shopping as of Black Friday throughout the month of December, when referencing a mobile retail website or mobile application. 

The conversation was very favourable too, with positive sentiment about mobile shopping three times that of the negative. This is a significant trend when we consider the impact consumer chatter on social networks can have on the overall brand. 

What else were customers happy about when it came to mobile shopping? Customers were on the hunt for deals, and the ability to price compare within applications led the way, with more than 52 percent of customers reacting positively to the ability to price compare within a mobile application. Mobile coupons added to this consumer satisfaction, with positive consumer sentiment six times that of the negative.

No time to rest on laurels

And while this is all great news, retailers cannot stop looking for ways to improve. Consider the following: While more than 63% of customers were talking about mobile shopping, an astounding 50% discussed actually transacting through their mobile device.

Of these, 21% had positive sentiment toward in-app transactions, while 9% expressed negative sentiment. What this means is that for every two positive comments, there was one person who had something negative to share about their experience.

In addition to transactions, consumers also weren’t shy about expressing their concern with application problems. Of those consumers who had an issue buying through a mobile application, 43 percent walked away with a negative perception of the app due to the poor experience they encountered. 

Application design also had challenges. While 45% of consumers who discussed application design reacted positively, 11% had a negative perception.

Now why is this data important? Well, every retailer should be aiming for perfection when it comes to the customer experience and this insight, while for the most part positive, also leaves retailers with room for improvement over the next few months.

Retailers and marketers need to enhance the mobile buying experience for customers by removing the pain points that may have caused shoppers to have a negative experience. 

Last year was clearly a breakout year for mobile shopping. But there’s still plenty of room to improve this year and beyond, especially regarding usability and the customer experience. If we can make these improvements and recognise consumer struggles, I suspect we’ll be seeing record levels of mobile shopping again during the next Christmas