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Smartphones in the hands of more shoppers has created a new class of empowered consumers.
In the UK, where smartphone penetration is high, mobile shopping is growing fast. According to ForeSee, citing Mobify, the number of visits to retail sites from mobile devices in the UK reached 2.8 billion in December 2012, up 30% year over year. And the number of purchases made via smartphones and tablets tripled over the course of the year as well.
However, while UK consumers have adopted mobile browsing and buying, the home computer still plays a pivotal role in online shopping. Among consumers in the UK who had shopped using a mobile device, ForeSee found that the home computer was still the preferred shopping device for nearly 90% of respondents. Notably, though, another 12% said they favored shopping using their mobile phone, and 9% cited their tablet. That total, over 20%, made using mobile devices to shop more popular than using the computer at work for shopping.
And mobile shoppers are using their phones to price compare, more than to browse products, suggesting that often when shoppers turn to their mobile devices they know what they are looking for—but they want to make sure they’re paying the right price.
Comparing prices was the No. 1 mobile retail activity among mobile shoppers, an action performed by just over half of respondents. That was followed by comparing different products, cited by 32% of UK mobile shoppers surveyed. Viewing product reviews was also cited by 19% of respondents. And 14% actually made purchases via mobile in December, the study found.
In-store, the premium placed on price comparison was also evident. While the mcommerce activity performed by the greatest percentage of UK mobile shoppers was accessing the store’s site, at about three-quarters of respondents, the next highest percentage of mobile shoppers (34%) accessed a competitor’s site in-store. The purpose of a visit to a competitor, and even potentially to a store’s own site, is likely to price compare, either across retailers or across channels, and to see more product inventory.
Mobile’s growing popularity for shopping, comparing and buying means retailers must work to make sure their mobile sites and apps provide the most comprehensive information, continuity across channels and, of course, competitive pricing. But there is also opportunity in mobile to reach a greater number of consumers and offer the kinds of intangibles—like good customer service, ease of use and attractive shipping and return policies—that can convert shoppers into buyers.
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