Sometimes you can measure innovation by how quickly a capability or service goes from being “cutting edge” to “low-hanging fruit.” That certainly seems to be the case among retailers for the in-store mobile experience — something made clear in DMI’s latest Mobile Maturity Model (M3) study.
Not too long ago retailers might have satisfied themselves with something as simple as in-store pickup for an online or mobile purchase. Today, customers expect such services in a larger push toward more sophisticated and mature capabilities. Let’s examine some highlights from the latest study to see what I mean by this.
Inventory and Product Review Tools Surge; Personalization Improving
The latest M3 study revealed promising gains in retailers’ mobile maturity across all of our benchmarks, much of it driven by pressure from online competition and evolving consumer habits. As an industry, the average score of all retailers rose year-over-year by 10 percent in 2017. And 2018 marks the largest year-over-year improvement we’ve seen in our M3 assessment of in-store mobile experiences.
Among the 60-plus retailers we studied, product reviews and advice appear to be some of the most mature areas overall for retailers, showing the highest scores across all categories as well as a year-over-year growth of 49 percent. By contrast, personalization continues to be a challenge for retailers. While the category jumped 150 percent year-over-year, it remains the lowest score across the study.
Major Shifts for Top 10 Retailers
The latest M3 study reflects some dynamic shifts in the industry, laid bare by a considerable shuffling in the top 10 rankings since last year. For instance, Lowe’s vaulted to the top of this year’s list from No. 6 last year. And this year’s No. 3 performer (Neiman Marcus) is new to the list altogether. No. 2, Walgreens, whose improvement from a No. 4 overall ranking last year was helped by its top score in the Pricing and Personalization category.
One lesson to draw from these shifts is that big-box retailers have no inherent advantage in elevating the mobile shopping experience. In fact, our study found that department stores scored an average of 95 vs. 87 for big-box retailers.
Looking to the Future
The push for more progress and innovation is evident in this year’s survey results. We believe the quality and sophistication of in-store mobile retail will keep evolving for the better. We expect the small fraction mobile commerce to widen slightly in 2018 as mobile technology improves and retailers invest more in thoughtful design, development and user testing. In addition, we predict more in-store guidance, especially for large-format stores. For example, better mobile navigation may allow stores to reduce the number of people on staff who direct shoppers to the right aisle for their product.
Other predictions include more social tools for customer service. As bonds between brands and customers become more fragile, retailers are building chatbots and customer service experiences that move interactions into shared spaces like social channels. Additionally, we’ll see more mobile payment and self-checkout options that appeal to the impatient, mobile-reliant customer and eliminate long lines. Retailers will have to overcome the related operational and security hurdles to make checkout truly seamless for mobile shoppers.
We’ll see more and more adoption of new technologies and seamless mobile tools as time goes on. But perhaps the best advice I can stress is not to simply implement technology for technology’s sake. Mobile “maturity” involves basing decisions less on the latest hot technology trend or fad, and more on how a capability can support solid strategies for growth, customer loyalty and competitive advantage.
Jeremy Gilman is the vice president of strategy at DMI, a global, end-to-end mobility services company.
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