Mobile adds complication to multichannel demands
(eMarketer) US internet users place great demands on multichannel retailers. A majority expect to be able to track, modify, complete and order from any channel, according to a July 2010 survey from Sterling Commerce. Shoppers expect to use a variety of routes from research to purchase, especially during the holiday shopping season.
And as smartphones continue to proliferate and more consumers use their phone as yet another shopping channel, retailers must be ready to offer capabilities through the mobile web or an app, or both. While many retailers focus on the price-comparison ability of smartphones, which allows in-store shoppers to check competitors’ prices, web users surveyed by Sterling Commerce said the single most important shopping function of a mobile phone was the ability to check whether a product was in stock.
Some retailers still struggle with accurate assessments of in-store product availability on their websites; this type of multichannel integration faces technological hurdles that must be addressed. But as the Sterling Commerce report says, product availability is becoming a necessity for impatient shoppers: “Nearly two thirds (66%) of consumers surveyed considered it important to very important to be able to conveniently determine in-stock availability before visiting a store.”
And convenience translates to the always-on possibilities of mobile. Internet users also told Sterling Commerce that looking up product availability was the feature they would most like to see in a retailer’s branded app. It was significantly more popular than store locators and even the ability to read product reviews while in the store.
As retailers gear up their mobile efforts with the holiday season, they must keep in mind that shoppers expect to do much more than find product info or a nearby store via the mobile web.