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Retailers need to step up on mobile

News, 04 February 2016

GLOBAL: Retailers are failing to meet consumer demand for increased convenience while shopping with mobile devices, according to new research from Accenture.

The consulting firm surveyed more than 10,000 consumers across 13 countries for its Adaptive Retail report, while also carrying out a separate benchmarking study that evaluated a global sample of 162 retailers in ten countries across multiple industries.

The consumer survey found that the proportion of consumers shopping "on the go" with mobile devices increased from 36% in 2014 to 40% in 2015.

And the percentage demanding more retail services via mobile, particularly real-time in-store promotions, rose from 40% to 47% in the same period. But only 7% of retailers said they currently have the ability to send real-time promotions.

Retailers appear to have been focused on the basics, with 93% now offering smartphone-optimised websites (89% tablet), and have been slow to respond with the increasingly sophisticated options that shoppers are coming to expect.

For example, 32% of shoppers wanted to be able to scan products in-store using their mobile devices – up from 27% in 2014 – but only 17% of retailers provided scanning capabilities.

At the same time, 42% of shoppers in the survey wanted to receive automatic credit for coupons and discounts via their mobile phones – up from 35% last year – yet only 16% of retailers had the capability to automatically credit coupons.

"Retailers need to understand … that they are actually involved in a race that will likely accelerate as consumers continually seek more value, greater convenience, and better customer experience across all channels," said Patricia Walker, senior managing director in Accenture's Products practice.

That means developing a seamless experience for consumers who expect mobile devices to ease the shopping experience, both online and in-store.

But they also have to chart a path through some contradictory consumer attitudes. The research found that three quarters of shoppers thought it "cool" that a retailer could automatically adjust the price of items for loyalty points and other discounts, while 6% considered it "creepy".

But 41% also said that having sales associates who know the items in their online wish list or shopping basket was "creepy", compared with 29% who viewed it as "cool".

"Despite the desire for the ultimate personalised experience, shoppers still have reservations about some retailer capabilities related to mobile use," Walker said.

Data sourced from Accenture; additional content by Warc staff