Just another friendly reminder to retailers: Your customers are way, way ahead of you when it comes to using mobile as a resource. Even my mobile-averse fiancée is ahead of most of you. And that is saying something. Whenever I hand her a phone in the car to look for directions or a local resource she still looks as if I 'd just handed her a rabid ferret. But she knows very well that I can get just about any product information we need on a smartphone. "Google it," she commands from the steam-cleaner aisle at Best Buy.
Well, luckily Best Buy has it covered (almost -- see below), but according to new research from Brandanywhere and Luth Research, they are rara avis. In Brandanywhere's new Mobile Indexer, which polled 7,000 sites on 10 devices, only 4.8% of U.S. retailers had mobile-specific Web sites. The top-tier retailers are faring better, but not well. Almost 23% of the major retailers as defined by traffic levels from Alexa had mobile Web sites. When broken down by verticals, the results across all merchants actually are worse, however. While auto parts retailers (20.78% with mobile Web sites) and auto dealerships (15.66%) were relatively more mobile-ready, department stores (3.41%), clothing and shoe stores (1.61%) and grocery stores (1.60%) were pathetic.
According to Dan Flanegan, Managing Partner, Brandanywhere, the big disconnect is with consumers who say they would give preference to retailers that had mobile presence. His company partnered with Luth to poll over 1,000 consumers on whether a brand's mobile-readiness affected purchasing decisions. "One in two consumers would give that preference based on whether the retailer has a mobile site," he says. "It indexes even higher with higher-value purchases. There is a big opportunity retailers can grab onto."
Luth and Brandanywhere also asked how consumers prioritize the functions they most need on a retailer's mobile presence. Interestingly, transactions were not among the most popular features. Foremost, they wanted to know about the special offers and coupons available -- what could make them shop smarter. But the second most desired feature was product pricing. Store location came next and then product information. Again, I have to imagine there would be variances according to product types. In Best Buy, for us it is all about product information and feature comparisons. On the way out the door to Shop-Rite, it is the sales.
Brandanywhere developed this Indexer to help agencies and their clients better understand how their digital presence is being seen across devices. The main focus here was on the mobile Web, where people are inclined to type in a familiar branded URL and hope for a desirable result. A number of mobile agency execs with whom I have spoken in the last year say they are making the "m-dot" strategy a priority for their brands. For years the .mobi extension struggled to become the commonplace suffix for all things mobile in the minds of consumers. In many cases the brands ended up creating m.brandname URLs instead. The best-case scenario is having a reliable redirect at the branded URL that kicks phones over to a mobile-ready version of the site. But as Brandanywhere's research shows, this reasonable expectation among mobile users is not being met.
But there are other roadblocks to mobilizing retail. One issue that looms waiting to be addresses is consumer confusion between check-in apps and branded retail apps. When I walk into my local BestBuy, what should I be firing up? Best Buy's app or ShopKick? Both? By the time I rifle through the options on both, my fiancée is long lost in the appliance aisle. And I hate the appliance aisles.
By the way, there is also the goofiness factor of scanning bar codes and QR codes to get an effect from a retail or check-in app. These check-in apps want consumers to behave like maze rats, scouring the aisles to scan codes into the apps to get "points" or "bucks." Sorry, I don't need another master yanking me around the store to scan products I don't want or need. That area of my life is already covered.
"Google this one," my fiancée commands.
"That refrigerator wouldn't fit in our living room, let alone the kitchen," I try to protest.
"I just want to see."
Yeah, well, epic fail. I know I have made this point, before but I am dead serious about the problem of cell phone reception in these cavernous stores. Just a few aisles into my local Best Buy, and its otherwise wonderful app is totally useless. Get into the center of that indoor football stadium that is Target and I think I catch my iPhone actually chuckling at me for trying.
Or maybe that's my fiancée.