Retailers’ Mobile Capabilities Lag Customer Demands, Accenture Research Finds

Research highlights need for retailers worldwide to improve mobile
capabilities to meet customer demands for adaptive retail

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Retailers are failing to meet consumer demand for increased convenience
while shopping with mobile devices, according to new research from
Accenture (NYSE:ACN).

Accenture conducted two pieces of research: the Accenture
Adaptive Retail
report, which surveyed more than 10,000 consumers
across 13 countries; and a separate benchmarking study that evaluated a
global sample of 162 retailers in 10 countries across multiple
industries. Taken together, the research findings highlight the need for
retailers to become more adaptive in order to embrace and achieve the
connected and integrated shopping experience that consumers seek.

Smart shopping with smart phones

The consumer survey found that the number of consumers shopping “on the
go,” with mobile devices, grew 10 percent in the past year, from 36
percent of consumers in 2014 to 40 percent in 2015. Not surprisingly,
the number of shoppers who want more retail services via mobile devices,
particularly real-time in-store promotions, also grew this past year, to
47 percent, up from 40 percent in last year’s survey. However, only
seven percent of retailers said they currently have the ability to send
real-time promotions.

Furthermore, while nearly one-third (32 percent) of shoppers want to be
able to scan products in-store using their mobile devices – up from 27
percent in 2014 – only 17 percent of retailers provide scanning
capabilities. At the same time, 42 percent of shoppers want to receive
automatic credit for coupons and discounts via their mobile phones – up
from 35 percent last year – yet only 16 percent of retailers have the
capability to automatically credit coupons.

“Retailers must make every effort to improve their mobile commerce
capabilities and keep up with consumers expectations,” said Patricia
Walker, senior managing director in Accenture’s Products practice and
the company’s North America Retail Practice lead. “To be an adaptive
retailer, the experience needs to be seamless experience for consumers
who expect mobile devices to ease the shopping experience, both online
and in-store.”

While retailers are adapting to the increase in consumer demand for
improved mobile capabilities, with the vast majority offering
smartphone-optimized websites (93 percent) and tablet-optimized websites
(89 percent), they are not doing enough: the research found that only 58
percent of retailers offer smartphone apps with purchase capabilities.

Meeting Expectations (or Not)

Despite inconsistent mobile capabilities, overall, shoppers feel that
retailers meet the majority of their expectations, according to the
Accenture research. However, while 67 percent of shoppers were satisfied
with store environment and product quality, only 52 percent were happy
with interaction with staff and delivery, and 51 percent with web
environment and returns.

The Adaptive Retail benchmark assessed retailers in terms of nearly 200
dimensions that evaluated their performance across six key metrics:
consistent experience; connected shopping; flexible fulfilment;
personalized interaction; integrated merchandising; and a better,
faster, memorable experience. Among the findings:

  • Only one percent of retailers provide their sales staff with tablets
    allowing them to easily access the personal history of customers while
    they shop in-store.
  • Sixty-eight percent of retailers have knowledgeable staff who can give
    detailed product information.
  • When it comes to delivery, 56 percent of retailers have next-day
    delivery capabilities, 11 percent offer same-day, 49 percent can
    schedule delivery on a specific day, 57 percent allow consumers to
    return online orders to the physical store and 39 percent have click &
    collect capabilities.

“This year’s survey confirms that retailers have begun to adapt to the
evolving needs of their customers. However, the challenge they face is
investing in building the important digital elements of their channel
strategy while remaining focused on driving profits which in many cases
is still primarily driven by stores. Retailers need to understand
however, that they are actually involved in a race that will likely
accelerate as consumers continually seek more value, greater
convenience, and better customer experience across all channels,” said

Accenture’s research also showed a nearly 60 percent increase in the
number of shoppers who want the ability to order out-of-stock products
when shopping in-store – 27 percent, up from 17 percent in 2014. Some
retailers are already meeting that expectation, with almost half (46
percent) employing store staff who can order out-of-stock items for
customers; however, only nine percent have in-store kiosks for customers
to place those orders.

“Visibility across channels is becoming more important to consumers
globally,” Walker continued. “Our research found that the number of
consumers who want the ability to check product availability online
prior to visiting a store almost doubled this past year, to 49 percent,
up from 27 percent in 2014. However, less than one-third of retailers –
just 28 percent – offer this capability. Retailers must begin to look at
their businesses from the consumer’s perspective and place digital at
the very core of the customer experience if they want to succeed.”

‘Creepy’ vs. ‘Cool’ Customer Experiences

Despite the desire for the ultimate personalized experience, shoppers
still have reservations about some retailer capabilities related to
mobile use. The Accenture research found that 75 percent of shoppers
believe that a retailer’s ability to automatically adjust the price of
items for loyalty points and other discounts is a ‘cool’ offering,
whereas six percent consider such ability ‘creepy.’

Interestingly, 41 percent of shoppers think that having sales associates
who know the items in their online wish list or shopping basket is
‘creepy,’ compared with 29 percent who view it as ‘cool’. However,
45 percent of shoppers said that a retail website that automatically
tailors to “who I am, what I like and what I have previously purchased”
is ‘cool.’

While more than half (56 percent) of shoppers see promotional offers as
‘cool’, 41 percent think that receiving recommendations based on social
media is ‘creepy.’ More than half of shoppers (55 percent) want websites
optimized for mobile devices, while 16 percent consider that ‘creepy’.

Accenture’s benchmark of retailers across the globe found that some
retailers are taking measures to get to know their customers better in
order to provide more personalized experiences:

  • Seventy-one percent of retailers have loyalty programs;
  • Twenty-two percent of retailers allow shoppers to create profiles of
    likes and dislikes;
  • Forty-one percent of retailers allow shoppers to specify marketing
  • Ten percent of retailers try to collect name, address, e-mail and
    phone number in store; and,
  • Eighty-eight percent of retailers allow shoppers to access Facebook
    (or local equivalent) via their website.

Differing Shopper Lifestyles Across the Globe

The Accenture Adaptive Retail report found that several companies have a
significant impact on consumers’ lifestyles across the globe. Google (57
percent) and Facebook (41 percent) are the top two companies with the
largest impact on shoppers, followed by Apple, Netflix and Uber, who did
not have as much of an impact globally. This varies by geography – in
the U.S., Amazon was listed as the top influencer (59 percent) followed
by Google (56 percent), while the UK, France and Japan ranked Google
first (50 percent, 46 percent, 40 percent, respectively), followed by
Amazon (40 percent, 36 percent, 40 percent, respectively). Meanwhile,
China-based consumers (74 percent) are more largely impacted by social
(weibo), followed by Alibaba (72 percent).


Accenture conducted an online survey of 10,096 consumers in Brazil,
Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Africa,
Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States who have shopped
both online and in stores during the last three months of 2015. Sourced
from panel data, survey respondents were vetted by ESOMAR, which adheres
to strict international guidelines for market research. The sample of
shoppers came from seven equally weighted sectors: apparel; consumer
electronics; department stores; discount, mass, and hypermarket stores;
grocery stores; drug stores; and home improvement outlets. The survey
represents respondents in terms of gender, generation, household income
level and place of residence. The survey screened all shoppers for
regular Internet and smartphone use and has a 95 percent confidence
level with a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percent.

To understand retailer capabilities, in November 2015 Accenture
benchmarked a global sample of 162 companies representing the apparel,
consumer electronics, department store, discount/mass/hypermarket,
grocery, drug/HBA and home improvement sectors in ten countries around
the world. The research assessed retailers in terms of nearly 200
dimensions that evaluated their performance across six key metrics:
consistent experience; connected shopping; flexible fulfillment;
personalized interaction; integrated merchandizing; and a better,
faster, memorable experience.

About Accenture

Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a
broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital,
technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and
specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business
functions – underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network –
Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help
clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their
stakeholders. With approximately 373,000 people serving clients in more
than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the
world works and lives. Visit us at


Caroline Douglas, + 35 3 87 680 0074