Smartphone Shoppers Have Higher Expectations, Less Tolerance

smart phone

Demandware Survey Reveals Web-Centric Consumers Have Highly Volatile Brand Loyalty

In today’s competitive marketplace, it is more necessary than ever for retailers to know their customers.  This is not a simple thing, considering our diverse population, our rapidly evolving society, and the technological developments that empower these consumers every day.  Demandware, Inc., a global leader in on-demand ecommerce, has just released results of a survey that may give retailers a sneak peek into the contemporary consumer mindset.

The survey, conducted in early 2011, examined the shopping behaviors and preferences of consumers who are innately drawn to the Web.  These web-centric consumers access the Internet several times per day for information, from multiple touch points and locations. A staggering 90 percent of the 454 consumers surveyed–across North America, UK, France and Germany–are Smartphone owners.  This fact alone should clue us in that these consumers want control and flexibility over when, where, and how they access information.  It is logical that they would want and expect the same control and flexibility when it comes to shopping.  This group eagerly advances the frontier of new shopping experiences and increasingly dictates how they want to be engaged by retailers.

The survey reveals a significant difference between traditional consumers and smart phone consumers. The difference is that “smart consumers” have much higher expectations for retailers and the brand experience.  They demonstrate very strong reactions to either positive or negative online shopping experiences.  Sixty-seven percent of smart phone shoppers indicate that a positive online experience would motivate them to reward a retailer with brand loyalty, sharing about the experience with their network of friends and family.  On the other hand, 72 percent would feel the need to share about a negative online experience, and 70 percent would turn to a competitor after a poor experience.  Empowered by mobile technology, these consumers have little patience for shopping experiences that do not meet their expectations, and will quickly move on to the world of options they literally have at their fingertips.

A variety of touch points and channels, including reviews, ratings, and product information, inform these web-centric consumers about their purchasing decisions.  The pressure this creates for retailers is to provide holistic and exceptional experiences across all touch points.  Consumers have embraced opportunities to share opinions and attitudes across web and mobile-enabled social networks. A single poor experience can reach much further than a single consumer, possibly causing a retailer to lose a whole group of consumers based on one person’s experience.   Also, a bad experience in one channel doesn’t just impact a consumer’s perception of that channel, but instead taints their feelings toward the entire brand. After a negative online experience, 52 percent of “smart consumers” are less likely to shop from that brand again in an offline channel, while only 38 percent of traditional consumers would react in the same way.

For “Smart Consumers,” their primary point of impact is the web, even in the store.  They  trust the web above all other channels to find product information, and this remains true while in a store environment.  The survey revealed that 83 percent considered their smartphone to be the most valuable and useful in-store technology, and 69 percent trust web data more than they trust information from a sales associate.   Only 16 percent believe that store associates are the best resource for product information; however, 43 percent of consumers will trust a sales associate more if the associate is aided by a web-connected device.

The “smart consumer” population is quickly on its way to becoming the majority, as smartphone adoption is expected to outpace traditional phones by the end of 2011.  This means that more and more consumers will experience the same empowerment gained by access to product information on other online resources.  Retailers must be able to deliver exceptional brand experiences and offer mobile access to product information, or they will lose these consumers as well as market share to their fast-moving peers.

“The smart consumer represents the new consumer. We believe our research provides valuable insight into the future of commerce. Empowered by greater access to the web, the new consumer is becoming increasingly agile and sophisticated, and will continue to raise the bar for the way commerce is conducted. Retailers must prepare their businesses now to adapt to this new era of commerce,” said Jamus Driscoll, vice president of marketing, Demandware.


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