Consumers Give Marketers a C-Minus in Mobile

A third of consumers surveyed by mobile solutions provider Mobiquity complained that retailers’ websites took too long to load on their mobile devices, that once loaded they couldn’t use apps to redeem loyalty points, and the ability to pay via phone was a rare experience. More than half of 1,000 shoppers polled by Research Now said that, when it came to mobile, retailers barely met expectations—essentially a grade of C-Minus.

“Here you have Amazon offering free two-hour delivery via an app. That’s so amazing. Amazon, at every moment, exceeds expectations,” says Eric Karofsky, who heads up retail solutions at Mobiquity. “Then we go into a store with our devices and we’re frustrated. There’s a big gap between people’s expectations and the reality.”

Forty-four percent of people believe they should be able to redeem loyalty points on smartphones, 33% feel entitled to pay with the devices, and 39% feel websites and apps should have the same look and feel across Web, mobile, and in-store channels. But retailers fall down hardest in the area of cross-channel integration, according to customers, only 22% of whom said they were satisfied with advances made in that area.

Karofsky doesn’t cut retailers any slack due to the rapid advancement of mobile as a force in commerce. He is of the opinion that they should be acting like entrepreneurs who should identify important customer segments and behaviors and seize on them immediately.

“It’s all about context and understanding the users’ needs. They’re missing a huge opportunity,” says Karofsky (below). “If someone is shopping on a PC, it’s hard to know what she’s looking for. But if I’m standing inside a store with my phone in my hand checking out a new television set, you can geo-locate me and you have a pretty good chance of knowing what I’m shopping for and how to approach me.”

A lack of training for store personnel and an aversion to exploring new in-store technology is also costing retailers money. One Mobiquity client—jewelry marketer Alex and Ani—equipped the “Bangle Bartenders” in its retail stores with hand-held devices that let customers make purchases in-aisle with their iPhones and avoid checkout lines altogether.

“Large retailers can use kiosks integrated with their POS systems that give shoppers a way to line-bust. Retailers need to start testing things out,” Karofsky says. “They need to understand what their loyal customers want and start taking action on it.”

Retailers also need to designate people within their organizations to tune into what’s going on in mobile and make sure store personnel is trained to be current with the evolving habits of customers. “Apple Pay came out and we went to stores to try to use it, and the reaction from some store associates was, ‘What’s Apple Pay?’” Karofsky says.

Mobile payment systems, meanwhile, are gaining rapid adoption on the part of consumers. Some 38% of them always use a mobile device to complement or complete a purchase, according to the survey.

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