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The elephant in the retail room: going native vs keeping legacy Article

Mobile now accounts for more than a quarter of all e-commerce transactions globally, and that number is increasing rapidly as our shopping behaviour continues to shift towards mobile first. The speed of commerce growth on mobile channels is now 3 times faster than on traditional e-commerce channels. UK commuters are already spending £9.3bn a year on the supercomputers in their pockets. We are increasingly trained to expect the purchasing experience on mobile to not only be easy but also fast. Which is why an overwhelming 69% of consumers would abandon a purchase if the checkout process within an app or website is not optimised for mobile devices.

Why is it then, that most of the top 100 retailers in the UK are still failing to offer customers a quick and seamless native mobile checkout experience?

Before we answer that question, we need to understand the benefit of a native mobile checkout. A native checkout is designed for a particular mobile device or operating system. It is integrated directly into a native built mobile app, matching the user interface design of the rest of the app, making the entire user experience as seamless as possible.

From our own research, 76% of the top 100 retailers in the UK are still offering apps that are either web app (styled like an app, but work off a web browser) or some sort of hybrid using a combination of native and web app. 36 of them do not even have a commerce app, despite the speed of growth in this channel.  What these retailers are missing out on is the higher conversion rate native apps bring. For iOS apps, conversion rate in native apps is 30% higher than web apps.

The research


Judo independently conducted research into the apps, checkouts and payments experiences of the IMRG Experian Hitwise Hot 100 Retailer list 2013.

“Commerce app” is defined as an app with the ability for consumers to browse, select and purchase goods from within the app.

“Native checkout” is defined as a checkout process built into the native app itself, without redirecting users to a web-hosted checkout page.

“Native payments” is defined as a payments process which it integrated within the app itself, without redirecting users to a web-hosted, or third party, payments interface.


Retailer offer: Yes % No %
Commerce App 62.1 37.9
Native Checkout 25.3 74.7
Native Payments 24.2 75.8

Some of the top retailers without commerce app: Debenhams, PC World, Currys, IKEA, Carphone Warehouse, Matalan, Clarks, Waitrose, TK Maxx, Urban Outfitters, Superdrug, Monsoon, Ann Summers

Our in-house mobile user experience experts also voted on the 5 best and 5 worst checkout experiences for the 64 retailers that have commerce apps. Below are the results, in no particular order.

5 worst mobile checkout experience: Boots, Homebase, Sports Direct, Odeon, Maplin Electronics

5 best mobile checkout experience: Ryanair, Premier Inn, Zara, Ocado, InterContinental Hotels Group

So what exactly is stopping top retailers from going fully native on mobile?

Problem one – legacy infrastructure

Large retailers’ existing legacy retail infrastructures are struggling to keep pace with the rapid proliferation of mobile technology and change in consumer behaviour. These legacy e-commerce infrastructures were not built to have the ability to incorporate new app technology. It is not easy to integrate an additional native app into a retailer’s existing e-commerce system that is supporting different silos of the business’s operations, ranging from content management to order fulfilment. Smaller retailers or digital-centric retailers (like Ocado) are gaining in mobile commerce, simply because they have the ability to be agile and provide excellent customer experience within native apps that makes purchasing physical goods on mobile easier and quicker.

Problem two – what makes sense for business vs. what customers want  

Considering the previous problem, it is understandable why most retailers chase for the quick win of marrying native app with embedded webview where the legacy infrastructure can’t support native integration. However, this is not a cost-efficient, long-term solution.

What makes sense for the business in the short term is not necessarily what customers want, and can hurt revenue in the long run. A report from the Centre for Retail Research earlier this year said that UK retailers are missing out on £6.6bn per year due to underinvestment in their mobile offering.

It’s time to listen to customers and, though painful, consider how to serve customers better on a device that consumers globally are already choosing to use first. Ultimately, decisions on user experience on mobile should derive from customer feedback and research, instead of driven by short-term concerns. Top retailers need to not only catch up to consumers’ changing demand and behaviour, but also invest effectively into infrastructures that can support future innovations.

This blog was written by Janice Tong, Social & Content Marketer at Judo Payments and originally posted here 

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