Mobile Stakes Are High for Retailers This Holiday

11/26/2012
Keynote, a vendor of Internet and mobile cloud testing and monitoring services, announced its 2012 Holiday Retail Mobile Performance Forecast and the outlook appears challenging for retailers.

The 2012 holiday shopping season is anticipated to be the year for mobile, as large numbers of holiday shoppers use their smartphones for research and purchasing. Adobe recently predicted that sales from mobile devices will rise 110 percent to account for 21 percent of all online sales. Two-thirds of those mobile sales will come through tablets, and the other third through smartphones. "Showrooming" is the trend du jour in retail – using your smartphone to compare prices and products before purchase - making mobile a big part of the brick and mortar experience.

But retailers may not be ready. Keynote predicts that slow site performance will leave many retailers – and mobile shoppers - crying in their eggnog.

The expectations for mobile commerce this holiday season is high:

Online retail sales are forecasted to be $68.4 billion, 15 percent over last year. (Forrester)
20 percent of online sales predicted to come from mobile devices. (IMRG/Cap Gemini)
Four in five mobile device owners will use their devices in some way to assist with shopping — including show rooming, couponing, reviews and research. (Google/Ipsos)

Meanwhile a Keynote User Study found that user expectations for site performance across smartphones and tablets are also high:

64 percent of smartphone users want an under four second page download
60 percent of tablet users want an under three second page download

So are online retailers ready to give the gift of mobile website performance and delight their customers looking to compare and buy online? Keynote's Worldwide Mobile Retail Index of 24 sites suggests most customers will be disappointed. Right now, the average response time (measured over the last three months) remains at 11.8 seconds. Let's call it the Keynote mobile performance gap.

"Based on this extreme gap between site performance and users' expectations, we believe this year's contribution from mobile will represent a significantly lost opportunity in goodwill and sales," said Aaron Rudger, senior manager for mobile web performance at Keynote. "While some sites have taken mobile web performance seriously and are delivering great experiences, the vast majority are still far behind the curve."
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