While mobile sales do not yet represent as high a proportion of a retailer's total sales as their main web sites, there is a wide customer satisfaction gap between mobile sites and traditional websites, according to the annual ForeSee Experience Index (FXI), which measures the customer experience across the UK's top ten mobile retail websites. This article is copyright 2014 The Best Customer Guide.

The research, carried out among nearly 2,500 consumers, investigated the impact that mobile shopping has had on retailers and on how UK shoppers are using their mobile phones to browse, research and purchase goods. "Our findings show that the top mobile sites are lagging behind their website counterparts," warned Eric Feinberg, senior director of mobile for ForeSee.

Earlier research by ForeSee found that every one-point increase in satisfaction translates into a 10.6% rise in a retailer's online revenues. This indicates a significant performance shortfall on the mobile front, and a significant opportunity that UK retailers can immediately address.

"It's important to remember that customers are using mobiles as a research medium too, to decide what products to buy from which retailers using which channels, so a less than satisfactory initial mobile experience also has the potential to drive buyers away from other channels like stores and call centres and into the arms of a competitor," said Feinberg.

The 2014 customer satisfaction scores for retailers' mobile sites were as follows:

  1. Marks & Spencer (marksandspencer.com) - 75
  2. Tesco (tesco.com) - 75
  3. NEXT (next.co.uk) - 74
  4. Sports Direct (sportsdirect.com) - 74
  5. N Brown (jdwilliams.co.uk) - 73
  6. Ocado (ocado.com) - 73
  7. Sainsbury's (sainsburys.co.uk) - 73
  8. BrandAlley (brandalley.com) - 70
  9. Currys (currys.co.uk) - 70
  10. Shop Direct (littlewoods.com) - 69

Among the study's other main findings:

  • The gap in satisfaction between retail website experiences and mobile sites is widening. A full four points divides the two, with the top 10 mobile sites averaging a score of 73 (on a 100 point scale) on the ForeSee Experience Index (FXI), as compared with the 77 averaged by their web-based equivalents.
  • Of the companies that feature in both the top 10 mobile sites and top 40 retail websites, only one - Tesco - is more highly ranked for its mobile site (75) than for its website (74). Sports Direct (74), NEXT (74) and Currys (70) score the same across both media. And Marks & Spencer, despite its position at the top of the mobile table, lags its website score (77).
  • The UK mobile customer experience landscape is not fully settled yet. Disappointingly none of the top ten mobile sites achieved a score of 80 or above - generally considered the threshold for excellence. Marks & Spencer and Tesco top the chart for satisfaction - with both scoring 75 points. Sports Direct and NEXT take joint second place with 74 points apiece, and N Brown, Ocado and Sainsbury's all score 73.
  • 59% of mobile site or app users started their journey on the company website, rather than in-store or on their mobile device. 62% of purchasers completed their final purchase through the company's website and had higher satisfaction than the 23% who purchased in the store (76 compared with 74).
  • When customers were asked how they used their mobile device while shopping, 46% said they used it to research products, 20% made purchases from their mobile device, 15% used their mobile device to compare prices and products while shopping in person in a store and seven percent used the company's mobile app. 36% did not use their mobile device while shopping during the festive season.
  • While shopping in retail stores, 64% accessed the retailer's website on their mobile device, 29% accessed a competitor's website and 17% accessed a shopping comparison website. Nine percent accessed the company's app, and 4% accessed a competitor's app on their mobile device while shopping in retail stores during the festive season.
  • Highly satisfied mobile shoppers (with a score of 80 or more) are 69% more likely to purchase from that retailer in the mobile channel, 53% more likely to buy from that retailer in another channel, 59% more likely to buy from that retailer the next time they make a similar purchase and 55% more likely to recommend the retailer, mobile website or app.
  • Customers influenced to purchase through text messages or alerts scored the highest satisfaction (78), followed by social network advertisements and recommendations from friends through a social network (both scoring 77 apiece). Purchases made through search engine results scored one of the lowest satisfaction scores -72 points.

"With eMarketer predicting UK smartphone usage to hit 34.6 million (53.7% of the population) in 2014, and 37.8 million in 2015, you can see why an average or less-than-satisfactory customer experience should be a great and growing concern to UK's retailers," concluded Feinberg. "The simple truth is that if a retailer gets their mobile strategy anything other than right, the consumer will go to another retailer or to Amazon. While amazon.co.uk is not listed as one of Internet Retailer's top 10 mobile sites, we did investigate its own mobile site as an aside, and it scored 80 points - considerably ahead of any company featured in the UK top ten."