November 28, 2012

Smartphones are influencing both online and in-store shopping

Written By Martin Sandhu

It’s no secret that smartphones have changed how people communicate and work on a day to day basis, love them or loathe them they are becoming a necessity of modern day life. Laptops and PCs are being left to collect dust in the corner, being replaced by more accessible mobile devices.

Smartphones are also altering peoples shopping habits and they’re not just using them to shop online. A survey by Ofcom found that over half of smartphone owners use their device when shopping. 31% admitted to taking photos of products, whether it’s to gauge opinion from Mum on the dress they’re thinking of buying or posting about their latest purchase on Twitter and Facebook, social communication is now a key element of shopping, even when in-store.

Searching online to compare prices is also popular. A quarter of those surveyed have used their smartphone to find out if they can buy a product cheaper elsewhere. This level of savvy-shopping has already spawned a number of apps, where shoppers can simply scan the barcode of a product and find out exactly how much it will cost them elsewhere.

Similar apps allow shoppers to scan bar codes for further product information or to research specific features. Reading product reviews online scores highly too, with 19% of smartphone users opting to find out what others had to say before deciding whether to make a purchase.

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The Amazon mobile app is popular while out and about.

When shopping in-store smartphones tend to make shoppers consider their purchases more carefully, but a separate survey found that purchasing through a phone or tablet leads to more impulsive buying. Almost a fifth (17%) of respondents to a Rackspace survey said that mobile devices have increased their impulse purchases. 71% of them cited simplicity and ease of use as the main reason for this, while 27% said that the experience of shopping with smartphones and tablets is better than shopping in-store.

The same survey found that many smartphone users do have security concerns though. Over a quarter of those who don’t shop through a mobile device gave security worries as a reason. A further 59% are uncomfortable with storing credit card details online and nearly a quarter said they are concerned that retailers might share their details.

All these findings highlight the need for retailers to be ever-present online. Not only ensuring ecommerce sites are mobile and tablet compatible with as short and simple a purchase process as possible, but retailers must also consider the other aspects of smartphone use when shopping. A presence on social media platforms to answer questions and queries and share customer purchases is a great start, however going beyond that to ensure that, when searched, terms for reviews of popular products or features lead customers back to your website should also be a high priority.