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Amazon Tops Mobile Commerce But Showrooming Impact Limited

In the latest holiday period, Amazon extended its domination of e-commerce to the mobile sector, according to the ForeSee Mobile Satisfaction Index: Holiday Retail Edition. However, that doesn’t mean the showrooming phenomenon dramatically penalized brick-and-mortar retailers, who continue to enjoy advantages in consumer communication.

ForeSee, a market researcher that focuses on customer experience analytics, surveyed 6,200 consumers during the peak holiday shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas and found that Amazon scored highest among 25 of the top mobile commerce companies.

The report demonstrated that consumer satisfaction with the mobile retail experience is improving, with the index gaining two points since last holiday season to 78 on a 100-point scale.

After Amazon, which scored an 85, top performing companies were Apple and QVC, both at 83, then NewEgg and Victoria’s Secret, both at 80. The retailers scoring the biggest improvements include Victoria’s Secret, up five points, Barnes & Noble, up four points to 79 and Target up five points to 77. Other major retailers scoring at or above the 78 average were HSN, Costco and Kohl’s, at 79 in the first case and at par in the others.

“The mobile platform is maturing much faster than the PC platform,” said Larry Freed, ForeSee president and CEO. “We see it in the rate of consumer adoption, and, fortunately, we are seeing it in how well the top retailers are adapting to multichannel consumers who are embracing yet another powerful tool. But retailers shouldn’t get too comfortable because change is just about the only thing you can count on. Consumers expect retailers to provide a consistent and seamless experience, regardless of the channel.”

Among other factors, the study investigated the role and impact of mobile on showrooming, the practice of examining merchandise in a traditional brick-and-mortar retail store only to shop online for the same item in search of a lower price. Although almost 70% of survey respondents reported using a mobile phone while in a retail location during the 2012 holiday season, 62% of consumers accessed the site or app operated by that store. Still, the competitive threat of showrooming exists, ForeSee asserted, as 37% reported accessing a competitor’s site or app.

“Customers are using their mobile phones as integrated parts of their shopping experience,” said Eric Feinberg, senior director of mobile at ForeSee and co-author of the holiday report. “Mobile is the ultimate companion channel, making showrooming as much of an opportunity as it is a threat. Retailers need to engage their customers equally well through all channels, especially through mobile sites and apps, or risk losing customers and sales to competitors that do a better job of meeting their needs.”

Overall consumers rate their traditional web experiences, at an average of 79 points, similarly to their mobile experiences, at 78 as noted. Yet, how they approach retailers online differs by device. Although 57% of respondents visited a company’s website as their first step in shopping experience, only 6% reported visiting the company’s website, mobile site, or app via mobile phone as their first step while shopping.