One product image that won’t load is enough to shoo mobile shoppers away, study finds

More consumers are clearly making purchases using their mobile devices more than ever.


10 Apr, 2017

One product image that won’t load is enough to shoo mobile shoppers away, study finds | BEAMSTART News

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When I was still in the mobile industry, a tenure that stretches back to the days of Motorola StarTAC, people often talked about what a mass adoption of “m-commerce” (or mobile commerce) might ultimately look like. Would it include location-based coupons from Starbucks?

That particular example (or scare story) was so ubiquitous for so many years that it was used as a kind of shorthand for why we didn’t want to buy things on our phones. Basically, we’re afraid that the creeping combination of personalization, location, and advanced targeting would keep us away from engaging with any sort of actual shopping on the smartphone.

It’s now 2017, and it didn’t happen. The true realities of what mobile commerce might become have now arrived, both in Asia and around the world. They’re different from what we thought they’d be, even as they continue to evolve.

More consumers are clearly making purchases using their mobile devices more than ever. A recent survey from Fluent found that more than half of respondents (54 percent) said they used their smartphones most often to make their online purchases, and not their desktops (23 percent) or tablets (14 percent).

More than 50 percent also said that they made up to five purchases from their phones the past year, and 24 percent admitted making six to 10 purchases. Here’s what’s interesting too: most of that shopping was done in mobile apps, and not in browsers. In fact, 86 to 90 percent of our smartphone activities takes place within apps.

The mobile sales from apps also increased from US$35.5 billion in 2014 to almost US$60 billion in 2015, a staggering 68.7 percent advance. 2016 hit nearly US$78 billion, up 30 percent from 2015.

Keep your wallet close and your smartphone closer

With that in mind, some very interesting behaviors have emerged in this new app-defined world of mobile commerce. We at Neumob recently surveyed consumers to find out more about the increasing intersection of offline and mobile app behaviors (the full results are available here).

One question that the survey asked the respondents was, “How many of these mobile commerce app behaviors have you engaged in during the last 12 months?”

Nearly half of all the shoppers confirmed the common observation and assumption that mobile apps can often displace or enhance the shopping experience within the store. Forty-eight percent said, “I’ve opened an app on my smartphone when in a physical retail store to try and find a better price or better selection.” Twenty-six percent of them saw something they liked in a store, but ordered it in a different (not the store’s) mobile app—even while they were still physically present inside the store.

But wait, there’s still good news for retailers!

Thirty-eight percent of shoppers went on to say that they’d seen something they liked in a store over the past year, then ordered the item from that store’s mobile app either right there on the spot or soon after visiting the shop. Twenty-six percent took photos in the store of an item they liked, then bought the product later in a mobile app. Twenty-two percent even said they ordered products from overseas using a mobile app.

These responses point to savvy and engaged consumers who frequently wield their smartphones as mobile swords of commerce, often from within the confines of a retail store. It confirms the importance of having a highly complementary mobile app to match any offline presence, and in ensuring that prices, descriptions, and even discounts are well-synced between a store’s mobile app and its physical locations.

When it comes to great shopping apps, speed and performance rules all

Consumers were also asked to rank five statements in order of preference to answer the question “What makes for a great shopping/mobile commerce app?” It turned out that a mobile app’s load time, speed, and responsiveness are more important than anything else.

Over 26 percent picked these elements as their number one need in a mobile shopping app, with 73 percent listing it among their top three choices, yielding an aggregate score of 3.41, which was higher than any other response. Only 9 percent said a mobile app’s responsiveness is least important. These findings tell that a highly volatile and slow mobile shopping app is one that’s likely to be ignored or quickly deleted.

A poor shopping app directly translates into lost revenues. The connection between the frustration that comes from a poor-performing shopping app and a complete loss of the sale (and their associated revenues) is specific, and as we found, quite measurable.

Our research found that over 47 percent of respondents, when faced with a product image that doesn’t load (just one simple image!), will either exit the app and buy the item from a different seller (20 percent) or exit the app and try to buy the item from the retailer’s website or in their store (27 percent).

Let’s assume that a healthy three quarters of the latter category do end up buying their item(s) from the original retailer. That’s still a 29 percent net loss of customers because an app that’s not optimized didn’t get to load one product image. Thirteen percent said they’d scroll over to something else in the app instead, while only a mere 2 percent said, “I’ll proceed with the purchase anyway. I don’t necessarily need to see what it looks like.”

That’s as it should be in 2017. We can do better.

Poor performance is costly

Clearly, mobile app speed and performance will count for a great deal in ensuring the continued increase in customers on shopping and mobile commerce apps throughout 2017. Congested networks and increased smartphone usage on those networks pose a challenge that brands will need to overcome, as seen in some of the statistics we uncovered in our survey. Consumers are making their overwhelming preference for fast, responsive and easy-to-navigate mobile apps. We also found that they would delete the ones that don’t perform and flock in droves to the ones that do.

The penalty for brands having a clunky, non-performing app is already paid in lost revenues, poor customer retention, lower shopping cart values, 1-star reviews in the app stores, and a general erosion of brand preference. With mobile app commerce exploding, the difference between a fast and smooth app and a poor or mediocre one could easily be the difference between overall profit or loss for a brand in any given quarter or year.

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