Retailers should fix simple mobile glitches first, create clear user paths, and then move to more complex development issues in 2018, Forrester says.

Brendan Miller, principal analyst, Forrester Research

Brendan Miller, principal analyst, Forrester Research

Forrester recently introduced a new industry wave that evaluates digital experiences of firms that serve end customers. The new series is designed to detail digital best practices from leading firms and help our clients better understand what digital strategies will best win, serve and retain customers.

Jennifer Wise, senior analyst, Forrester Research

Jennifer Wise, senior analyst, Forrester Research

For the first report in the series, we decided to evaluate retail mobile web because retailers are badly in need of inspiration for this pivotal channel. Mobile web is retailers’ most visited digital channel, yet it converts at an average of just 1%, less than both desktop and mobile apps. To increase mobile web conversion, retailers can no longer hope for the best with passive solutions such as responsive design. We selected twelve top US retailers, including both traditional retailers with brick-and-mortar locations as well as digital-native pure-plays. For each retailer, our evaluation covers the online shopping functionality and usability offered by the mobile website.

According to our findings, there is a wide gap between our leaders – The Home Depot and Wayfair – and the rest of the evaluated retailers. Here are four specific areas that contributed to this evaluation:

advertisement
  • Checkout experiences. Many retailers put too much cognitive load on their customers or spark buyer frustration by not offering a clear process, easy form filling, and digital wallets. Other offenses included requiring customers to type out non-essential information, like a phone number, on their mobile device.
  • Customer support. Too few retailers offer adequate, real-time levels of support in their mobile web experience. Instead, users must search for help, often by scrolling to the end of a long page and trying to tap miniature text.
  • Omnichannel integration. Smartphones influenced more than $1 trillion in US offline retail sales in 2016. These mobile shoppers are on the go and often want to know if you have the right product at the right price at their local store. On some retailers’ sites, we struggled to complete simple tasks like getting store locators to tell us which local store has the product we need. And too few retailers offer a range of fulfillment options, such as reserving a product online and paying in-store.
  • Browsing experience. Too few retailers provided the site search and navigation features to allow the user to easily browse, find, and narrow their product searches. First, users had to navigate through missing search criteria (ex: delivery options) and unclear product categories. Then if they landed on a product they didn’t want, the user would be stuck with no other than to press “back” to see something else, or face the dreaded “select-one-filter—for-each-screen-reload” filtering option.

There are many ways for retailers to improve, but the big question is: where should they focus? Retailers should fix simple glitches first, focus on creating clear user paths, and then move to more complex development issues in 2018. Retailers must stay focused on features that add customer value and design for great usability with a streamlined checkout, mobile-friendly content, boost cross selling effectiveness and personalization.