Siteworx Report: Retailers Missing Opportunity in Mobile Point-of-Sale

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Barry Levine avatar

More than half of US shoppers used their tablets to research holiday purchases, but desktops and laptops are still the top choice for actual shopping. Those are among the takeaways in the annual State of Mobile Features and Functionality 2014 report by digital experience agency Siteworx.

Now in its second year, the report attempts to paint a picture of “the quality of mobile and tablet buying experiences,” and is based on a survey of Internet users at the end of December.

Cyber Monday Traffic

Everyone knows the growth of mobile commerce is phenomenal, but the report pointed to a recent IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark study to make the point: nearly a third on all online traffic in 2013’s Cyber Monday was mobile. Three years ago, that figure was 4 percent.

Fifty-six percent of respondents used tablets to research holiday purchases in 2013, and 45 percent employed the devices to find store hours, locations and directions. But the actual purchasing was done on a desktop or laptop by 62 percent, with 40 percent using tablets and 30 percent smartphones.

Laura DiDio, an analyst with industry research firm Information Technology Intelligence Corp. (ITIC), told CMSWire she would have expected those stats to "depend on who you are,” with younger users more likely to use mobile. But the Siteworx report noted the preference for laptops and desktops in making purchases was across all age groups. However, nearly 55 percent of those who bought using a smartphone were in the 25 to 34 age group, so it does appear that the tendency is moving up the age ladder.

How did you purchase your holiday gifts this year.png

How did you purchase your holiday gifts this year?

Jump in App Downloading

Although major retailers are rushing to issue mobile apps, the report also noted more than 55 percent preferred shopping on a mobile website compared to 44 percent who'd rather download that store's mobile app.

Nevertheless, Giovanni Calabro, vice president of design at Siteworx, told us a key difference between this year’s report and last year’s is “the jump in overall downloading of mobile apps,” which he said points to users becoming more comfortable with downloading. Forty-four percent in the 2014 report chose to download an app. Last year’s report noted it was 34 percent. He added that desktops and laptops are still the preferred choice for actual purchases partly because most of the buying is still done in the home, where the computers are often set up and ready with a larger screen.

Learning Opportunities

He pointed out “one of the aha’s” in this year’s report was point-of-sale. The survey found that a whopping 81 percent of respondents were “not provided the opportunity to complete a transaction from a mobile or tablet point-of-sale device” in a physical store."

‘Price-Shop and Jump’

This, Calabro said, means the in-store dynamic “is left in the hands of a customer to price-shop and jump” They can look in a store, handle the product and then go elsewhere and use a device to buy that item online.

“The missing element for retailers,” he noted, is a store staff person with a tablet or a smartphone, helping to conduct research or complete a sale right in the store. The model is Apple, where every store staff member uses a tablet for such purposes, as well as for capturing customer data.

Calabro said that, eventually, stores will want to recognize a person’s mobile phone when they enter the store and go to other lengths to personalize a physical visit using mobile technology. ITIC’s DiDio said such tablet-wielding store personnel could become as common as, say, doctors with tablets are in some hospitals and medical offices.

Bar graph from the Siteworx report.