Tablets for holiday shopping? Not so nice.

When it comes to holiday shopping, consumers struggle with putting the tablet on the naughty or nice list. According to OpinionLab’s Holiday 2012 eCommerce Site Experience Report, consumers turn to the tablet for product research and bargain hunting, yet forsake the mobile device when it comes time to hunker down and purchase.

“What we’re seeing is when consumers are using the tablet, they’re doing their browsing and their research; and when it comes to buying, they’re just not satisfied with the experience,” says Jonathan Levitt, CMO of OpinionLab, a provider of voice of customer solutions. “Consumers are willing to spend time on any device they have to look for the right product and the right price. When it comes time to actually making that purchase, they’re still moving over to their desktop.”

The report surveyed 43,000 retail and e-commerce consumers and analyzed overall satisfaction, customers’ visit intentions, and site experiences by visitor intent, which traces each consumer’s experience back to the intent to see how well the two aligned.

“Unless you can really unearth what a person intends to do in the context of a visit, you almost have no credible way to measure the success of his or her session,” says Michael Whitehouse, senior analyst of OpinionLab’s marketing team.

“It speaks to looking at the data through the lens of the customer and not necessarily through the lens of the business or the channel,” Levitt adds. “When you can marry visitor intent with site or channel objectives then you’re really delivering value.”

The tablet reigned victorious and achieved an overall customer satisfaction rating of 3.61 out of five. When it came to researching, browsing, and price searching, 62% of consumers intended to use their tablet. Additionally, the tablet clearly met respondents’ expectations as the tablet scored a 3.65 in site experience by purpose category—triumphing over its smartphone and desktop counterparts (3.47, 2.94 respectively). However, the tablet’s site experience by intent rating plunged to 2.39 when making a purchase, despite 34%  of respondents having the initial intent to do so.

“[Consumers] are looking for a seamless experience throughout the consideration and shopping process, whether they’re on a website, a tethered device, or an untethered device,” Levitt says. “People have to look at their mobile sites, their tablet applications, [and] their mobile presence on a tablet and say, ‘I may have shoppers who are looking to go through the entire consideration and purchase process and I have to build an environment that’s conducive to that, rather than think of it as an add-on to my web strategy.’”

However one device’s strength is another one’s folly. While the tablet was champion in customer satisfaction, the smartphone received the lowest satisfaction score: 3.19. On the flip side, the smartphone received the highest site experience rating by intent score for customer service—chalking up a 3.61.

“When you look at people who are using their smartphones to access a site for the purposes of contacting customer service, or tracking an order—a  service-oriented intent—it’s  a hell of a lot easier than going through the purchase process,” Levitt says. “We’re talking about people who aren’t actually looking to make a purchase, but follow up from a support perspective.”

Notably, the Android ranked the lowest among online retail site experience ratings by platform type—falling behind desktop, IOS, and other mobile devices.

“Satisfaction on Android phones is awful. It’s just really, really low and that again speaks to a lot of retailers and a lot of multichannel, omni-channel operators [who] put their Android app out there as a little bit of an afterthought,” Whitehouse says. “Maybe the IOS app got a little bit more attention than the Android app.”

However, Whitehouse says, a disconnect between in-store and mobile experiences can lead to a decrease in overall customer satisfaction.

“A lot of these attempted purchasing activities on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile platforms…are actually initiated as a result of a visit to a store,” Whitehouse says. “A shopper might be encountering a certain set of merchandise or a certain promotion or a certain offer, and if there’s not 100% synchronization between what the shopper sees in the store and what the shopper is able to access through the mobile app or the mobile site, again it will trigger dissatisfaction.”

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