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Report: Retailers’ Mobile Efforts Miss the Mark with Shoppers

Global shoppers are becoming savvier than ever when it comes to using their smartphones in-store, but retailers are struggling to meet their expectations.

Accenture this week reported that 40 percent of consumers claimed to shop on-the-go with mobile devices in 2015, up from 36 percent in 2014. In addition, 47 percent of shoppers want more retail services, such as real-time in-store promotions, compared with 40 percent last year, something that only 7 percent of retailers said they currently have the ability to offer.

The global technology consulting and services firm surveyed more than 10,000 consumers across 13 countries for the “Accenture Adaptive Retail” report and in a separate benchmarking study assessed 162 retailers in 10 countries across multiple industries. Based on findings from both, the firm found that retailers worldwide need to step up their mobile capabilities to meet customer demands for adaptive retail.

Here’s what mobile shoppers expect: features that offer them the ability to scan products in-store using their smartphones or tablets (32 percent) as well as automatically receive coupons and discounts on their devices (42 percent). Meanwhile, only 17 percent of stores provide scanning capabilities and only 16 percent offer automatic credit.

“Retailers must make every effort to improve their mobile commerce capabilities and keep up with consumers expectations,” Patricia Walker, senior managing director and North America retail practice lead at Accenture, said. “To be an adaptive retailer, the experience needs to be seamless for consumers who expect mobile devices to ease the shopping experience, both online and in-store.”

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That’s not to say that retailers haven’t adapted—93 percent said they offer smartphone-optimized websites, while 89 percent have adjusted their sites for tablets—but the research highlights that they’re not doing enough. In fact, only 58 percent offer shoppers the option to purchase something through their smartphone app.

Retailers need to offer more mobile features

Despite the downfalls, however, shoppers feel that retailers meet the majority of their expectations: 67 percent were satisfied with store environment and product quality. However, only 52 percent were happy with their interactions with staff and delivery, and 51 percent with web environment and returns.

“This year’s survey confirms that retailers have begun to adapt to the evolving needs of their customers. However, the challenge they face is investing in building the important digital elements of their channel strategy while remaining focused on driving profits which in many cases is still primarily driven by stores,” Walker continued. “Retailers need to understand, however, that they are actually involved in a race that will likely accelerate as consumers continually seek more value, greater convenience and better customer experience across all channels.”

Accenture’s research also showed a nearly 60 percent increase in the number of shoppers who want to be able to order out-of-stock products when shopping in-store. But while 46 percent of retailers do have staff that can place those orders, only 9 percent have in-store kiosks that allow customers to do it themselves.

“Visibility across channels is becoming more important to consumers globally,” Walker pointed out. “Our research found that the number of consumers who want the ability to check product availability online prior to visiting a store almost doubled this past year, to 49 percent, up from 27 percent in 2014. However, less than one-third of retailers—just 28 percent—offer this capability. Retailers must begin to look at their businesses from the consumer’s perspective and place digital at the very core of the customer experience if they want to succeed.”