Consumers With High Expectations, Retailers Lacking

Consumers have high expectations, and they only want more. This holiday season, studies say consumers are holding retailers to a higher standard than in past years. They want a seamless and enhanced shopping experience, and they also want those gifts sent fast (and perhaps they’re willing to pay for it).

But brands, merchants and retailers are lacking when it comes to keeping pace with those expectations. According to NewStore’s “2016 Mobile Retail Report,” of 112 luxury, lifestyle and fashion brands, the average grade overall was a C-minus. Brands, according to the survey, are still showing mixed adoption and integration when it comes to important technologies that are necessary for satiating the desires and needs of mobile customers.

“While consumers are living in a mobile-first world, the retail industry is stuck in the past,” said Stephan Schambach, CEO and founder of NewStore, who added that the only way to make omnichannel a reality is via mobile. “The retail industry continues to buzz about mobile, but it lags in the implementation of such technologies in every aspect of the customer experience,” said Schambach.

Proving its point in the research, NewStore analyzed shoppers’ habits with mobile entities, like a native app or mobile website, and pulled in elements of personalization, engagement, fulfillment of products, as well as re-engagement with the consumer later.

“Brands know they must adopt a mobile mindset and incorporate mobile strategies to achieve the full potential of omnichannel commerce, yet few are doing so effectively,” said Schambach. “While technology solutions are readily available, many retailers are either not using them optimally or are still running on antiquated systems and processes.”

Reporting the details of the path of the shopping experience, NewStore gave grades to each step and element of the way. And they weren’t stellar.

Mobile experience received a C+ grade because only 22 percent of brands and retailers offer a mobile shopping app. Search and share received a grade a bit lower, a C, due to 20 percent of store associates having real-time insight and visibility into inventory through a mobile device. For personalization and engagement, the grade was a C-, due to no retailers using beacon technology. Path to purchase received a D after NewStore noticed that the average customer has to make it through an average of 21 fields to make a digital purchase — which could lose many of these customers due to tediousness — while 14 percent of retailers allow their store associates to check customers out with an in-store, mobile device. Last, fulfillment received a D- because only 22 percent of retailers offer an in-store pickup plan, with 13 percent able to allow for an in-store pickup placed on a mobile site or app.

The research and grades net out to a poor report card, calling for some brushing up on skills.