Survey: Users Look to Mobile Websites for in-Store Customer Service

Earlier this week ForeSee Results, which measures online consumer satisfaction, released a new "Mobile Satisfaction Index." Based on a survey of 6,000 US adults in Q4 2012 the company sought to rank retail mobile sites and apps. Amazon was the winner, followed by Apple.  

Below is ForeSee's list of top 25 ranked retailers and e-tailers according to consumer mobile satisfaction: 

ForeSee Results mobile satisfaction

There's nothing surprising on the list above. Amazon has a great brand and has made huge investments in mobile. What's perhaps surprising is the absence of eBay from the top 25. 

ForeSee also found that 70% of survey respondents were using their mobile phones in stores during shopping. Other surveys have shown higher numbers. In addition, if smartphone users are isolated the numbers are certainly higher (above 80% or 90%). 

Regardless perhaps the most interesting survey finding is that a majority of mobile users said they accessed the retailer's website (though mostly not their apps) while in the store. 

How did you use your mobile phone while in retail stores this holiday season?

  • 62% accessed the store's website on their phone (satisfaction for this group is 79)
  • 37% accessed a competitor's website on their phone (77)
  • 21% accessed a shopping comparison website on their phone (77)
  • 20% accessed the store's mobile shopping app on their phone (79)
  • 11% accessed a competitor's mobile shopping app on their phone (77)

Again: 62% accessed the store's website on their phone. People have always assumed that in-store mobile usage is about buying on Amazon or getting competitive price information. It turns out, not exactly. 

Many of these users are looking to a retailer's mobile website to perform traditional in-store sales or customer service functions. People want more information about products (e.g., reviews) and they're looking for it via the mobile web rather than trying to find a sales person or service rep in the store.

It means that retailers need to develop their mobile sites and apps with the idea that users are often in their own stores and these sites/apps are more likely to be in-store shopping aids than e-commerce sites. They need to think of the in-store experience now as multi-channel. Retailers should also aggressively be using their mobile sites to drive downloads of their apps which should offer an even better experience.

The app then becomes a mobile marketing and loyalty tool for the retailer. 

This may not sound like anything other than self-evident information or advice. But the heavy in-store context of mobile app/site usage requires a shift in retailer thinking. Rather than a parallel or independent channel retailers must consider mobile as a kind of sales assistant that can and should augment the in-store experience as much as anything else.