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Mobile shopping is widespread—eMarketer estimates that more than 150 million people used a mobile device to research, browse or compare products last year, including 79.0% of smartphone users and 86.0% of tablet users. But it’s still largely an upper-funnel affair, with fewer than seven in 10 of those mobile shoppers actually making a purchase on their device.
What’s more, while almost eight in 10 people who shopped on a tablet also made a purchase, only around half of smartphone shoppers did the same. Though tablets are less widespread in the population than smartphones, tablet users are more likely to shop on their devices, and those shoppers are more likely to buy—and to spend. Tablets accounted for 65.8% of total US retail mcommerce sales last year, eMarketer estimates, vs. 32.0% on smartphones.
When it comes to digital buying behaviors, tablet users act more like desktop users: They tend not to actually be mobile, for one thing, but at home on the couch, with plenty of time and attention for purchase decisions. Smartphone shoppers, meanwhile, tend to focus on upper-funnel shopping activities on their devices, moving to a different channel to complete the purchase.
According to an Interactive Advertising Bureau survey from November 2014 asking smartphone owners how they planned to use their devices between Thanksgiving and the end of the year, 35% cited convenience in the upper-funnel activities of searching, researching and finding what they were looking for. That was 9 percentage points higher than the most popular lower-funnel activity, receiving mobile coupons, and 15 points higher than getting free Wi-Fi in stores (both of which could also assist in brick-and-mortar, rather than mobile, sales).
In September 2014, comScore reported findings that also support a tendency to do retail-related activities on mobile, while not necessarily buying via the channel. Two-thirds of all digital retail time spent in the US occurred on mobile, but only 11% of sales.
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