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Study: Fast, available web, mobile and native apps top holiday wish lists

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Frustrating digital experiences will land brands on the naughty list this holiday season.

In fact, 81% of frequent online shoppers said they have previously been frustrated with slow-loading websites, mobile sites or native mobile apps, with over three-quarters (76%) saying if a retailer’s web site or mobile site performs poorly they tend to avoid shopping there again.

These sobering details were shared in a study from Catchpoint that interviewed 2,064 U.S. adults Nov. 1-3, 2016. Sixty-seven percent (67%), or 1,361 consumers, of this group shop online at least once a month.

Half (50%) of these frequent online shoppers said they are less likely to visit a retailer’s brick-and-mortar store if they have a negative experience shopping on its website or mobile app. And these negative experiences come in many flavors.

For example, more than one in five (21%) said they will wait no longer than five seconds for a web site, mobile site or mobile app to load before abandoning the page. Meanwhile, 79% said they would abandon the checkout process if it took two minutes or more to attempt to complete a transaction, the study said.

There is an opportunity for redemption, however. Thirty-three percent (33%) prefer to shop with retailers that offer a mobile app over ones that only have a website or mobile site. Meanwhile, half said they would be willing to wait longer than usual during the checkout process if free shipping (65%), coupons (57%) or bargains (62%) were available, the study said.

“With more physical stores closing and more shopping moving online, consumers’ brand awareness of retailers is informed through their digital interactions,” comments Mehdi Daoudi, CEO and co-founder of Catchpoint, which helps companies monitor the performance of their digital assets. “A fast, always-available site strengthens brand perception, while patterns of slowness or unreliability have the opposite effect.”

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Walmart tests technology to ward off fresh food recalls

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

With the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reporting more than 1,000 forborne outbreaks annually, Walmart is taking a proactive stance.

By tapping blockchain, a database technology that identifies merchandise — and its handling — throughout the supply chain, Walmart hopes to identify the sources of tainted merchandise before it ends up in the hands of shoppers. The chain is testing the technology across one packaged produce item in the U.S., and pork in China, according to Bloomberg.

If the test is successful, Walmart will expand the breadth of the technology in both countries, the report said.

To read more, click here.

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Study: Middle-market retailers optimistic — especially about digital sales

BY Marianne Wilson

As the holidays approach, this group of retailers is feeling very confident about its financial health.

Eighty-percent of middle-market retailers (revenue between $5 million and $2.9 billion) rated their overall financial condition as healthy or very healthy in the 8th annual CIT Retail Outlook. Sixty-percent expect an increase in total sales of more than 5% for the 2016 holiday season, compared to only 33% three years ago.

The online study was conducted among 310 financial decision makers within the retail industry by Harris Poll on behalf of CIT Group, a provider of commercial lending and leasing services.

Middle-market retailers are most optimistic about sales generated from their online (75%) and mobile (65%) offerings compared to other channels. Their expectations for growth in revenue from in-store (45% compared to 50% in 2015) and catalog/phone (28% compared to 42% in 2015) channels have been scaled back significantly since last year.

On the employee fronts 54% of middle market retailers expect to increase the number of staff devoted to Internet/mobile sales channels over the next year, down from 62% in 2015, while 52% say they will increase the number of hourly staff.

The ubiquitous influence of the web has made having an online presence the No. 1 strategic investment for 2016. More than seven in ten (73%) of omnichannel middle market retailers say that the biggest investment priority will be their online presence, followed by social media (57%) and digital marketing (50%).

Other key findings from the study include:

• The competitive landscape: Fifty-three percent of middle market and large retailers agree fast fashion retailers are taking consumers away from U.S. middle market retailers and pose a threat to other categories of goods. Seven in 10(71%) middle market and large retailers feel that it is likely that one or more prominent retailers will disappear in the next one to three years.

• Brick-and-mortar stores: Almost three in five (56%) large and middle market retailers are using their stores differently than they have in the past, with over four in five of those with both a physical and online presence (83%) agreeing that their company is using their physical stores in a way that complements their digital channel. Eighty-one percent of middle market retailers agree that providing a unique shopping experience is an innovative way to attract new customers to brick-and-mortar.

• Web presence is price of entry: Middle market retailers are less likely to say revenue is growing from stores (45% compared to 59% in 2015) than websites (75% compared to 71% in 2015). Expected growth from mobile is also high at 65%, while phone/catalog growth is low at 28%. Half (51%) cite updating and replacing technology as the key way to connect their channels.

• Mobile and social offer competitive advantages: Sixty-five percent of middle market retailers believe revenue is growing from mobile. The most common steps used to take advantage of mobile technology remain: creating mobile apps (51%), updating their website to meet consumer needs (50%) and increasing email campaigns (46%).

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