Consumers Disenchanted With M-Commerce

As far as consumers are concerned, multichannel shopping is old news. And many find mobile screens too small -- and retailers’ m-commerce sites too clunky. They prefer to navigate e-commerce on their own rather than put up with less-than-ideal offerings from their favorite stores, according to a new survey from PwC U.S. Retail & Consumer practice.

The report, based on responses from 15,000 online shoppers around the world, concludes that retailers need to move beyond omnichannel thinking to meet consumers’ broadening expectations. And it notes that while shoppers are increasingly open to m-commerce, they’re also disenchanted. Some 37% of shoppers in the U.S. say security fears prevent them from shopping by phone, 33% say their screens are too small, and 32% say they don’t own smartphones. Many retailers would be better served by ditching m-commerce platforms, the report says, and focusing on what people do want.

“Consumers now view multichannel shopping as a given, and the costs and complexities of managing a multichannel model are too great and offer too few rewards to benefit the customer experience,” writes Steven Barr, PwC’s U.S. retail & consumer practice leader. “Today’s non-stop shoppers have taken things into their own hands, becoming more tech-savvy than retailers. Consumers have the tools at their fingertips to immerse themselves into the retail brand. Our report finds that consumers have strict expectations that challenge today’s shopping experience.”

Among those expectations? Consumers appreciate a good old-fashioned brand story that is compelling, with 79% of the U.S. respondents saying they shop at retail brands they trust and that provide a distinctive experience. Of course, price continues to drive their interest, with 61% saying that special deals and promotions are why they follow brands on social media.

Retailers can better meet those expectations by using shopper data to customize digital coupons, content, and social media promotions. And they can do more to both safeguard shopper data, and communicate those efforts to shoppers, it says.

And as consumers’ tech demands increase, retailers “will need to have the technical agility to provide one seamless experience via PC, tablet, mobile phone, in app or web browser.” That includes real-time inventory availability, which 45% of U.S. shoppers say is important to them.

Both store apps and mobile sites must improve, it says, or risk losing consumers. “When asked how often they use an app and mobile browser for shopping, respondents noted 22% and 28% weekly, respectively, with mobile browser faring a bit higher due to convenience (53% prefer mobile browser because of convenience). Retailers should take note to ensure their mobile site is optimized, while also ramping up apps to improve the experience.

"Mobile Shopping" photo from Shutterstock.

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2 comments about "Consumers Disenchanted With M-Commerce".
  1. Tom Francoeur from Communispace , February 28, 2014 at 10:27 a.m.
    Great article! The PwC study is in line with a lot or research - consumers are comfortable using their smartphones to search for retailer locations, products, and product info, buy making a purchase via mobile is still outside the shopping habits and comfort zone of the majority of shoppers. Still, I don't agree with the study conclusions that "Many retailers would be better served by ditching m-commerce platforms." The majority of consumers may not be there yet, but they will be.
  2. Mickey Lonchar from Quisenberry , February 28, 2014 at 12:05 p.m.
    We're still trying to figure out how consumers really use mobile while shopping. Until now, we've relied mainly on self-reported behaviors from consumers and over-generalized statistics. This study backs up what I've observed watching actual shoppers in the retail environment, that the 'mobile shopper' isn't as prevalent as we'd been lead to believe. Knowing that consumers often visit a website three or more times before purchasing should give us pause.