Mobile Shopping Apps Improving Customer Experience, but Barriers Still Impede Buyers

3 minute read
Anthony Myers avatar

Every year mobile device ownership percentages tilt up, and with them, usage numbers for things like online shopping. Despite easier access to mobile shopping apps and websites however, a new study reports that many retailers are not providing top notch customer experiences.

Online Shopping Survey Reveals Simple Fixes for Retailers

Four hundred people were surveyed in October and November 2012, and the biggest problem people had with closing out their online purchases was not being able to properly enter the captcha. That's right, it's not problems with their credit cards or finding the right information, but simply reading the little scrambled security words so familiar to millions who shop online.

It wasn't even close, in fact. According to a report by Virtual Hold Technology, sixty percent of those surveyed said the captcha was the biggest problem they had when they were frustrated with a recent online purchase. The second biggest problem people had was properly using promo codes or virtual gift cards.

Most online shoppers at stores like Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Target and Best Buy were using both apps and websites to browse and buy, but a higher percentage prefer mobile apps. This is not surprising given that 85% of American adults now own a mobile phone.


Top online buys were apparel, books and household goods followed by electronics and event tickets, the VHT survey reported.

Learning Opportunities

That number is from a new Pew Internet Project report that also found nearly 60% of those mobile owners access the Internet from their device. This survey did not, however, ask what those people did online, only if they in fact used Internet services.

Buyers in Charge to the Extent Businesses Can Keep Up

Even though more people are going online via mobile devices and laptops than ever, the sheer volume of people has yet to turn the tide in favor of better customer experiences. Witness the captcha roadblock noted in the VHT study. 

This should be an easy fix, at least intuitively. In the convoluted world of IT buying and implementation, that kind of prioritizing is slowly becoming the norm. For retailers especially, roadblocks like problems with gift cards should be addressed quickly, but again, customer service is a complex world needing technological disruption. 

As the 2012 holiday shopping season unwinds, we look forward to hearing about online shopping experiences you might like to share in the comments section. Buying more or less online this year? More or fewer purchases overall? Feel free to give us a heads up in the comments below.