Survey: Majority Use Smartphones In Stores, Not For E-Commerce

surveymonkey-marketingland-logosNew research from Marketing Land and SurveyMonkey reflects that smartphones are heavily used by consumers for shopping research in stores but there’s limited buying on the devices. This echoes a body of other findings in the market from a range of sources.

Though the precise percentages vary in the different surveys, directionally the findings are very similar. Overall, 66 percent of respondents in our survey reported that they used smartphones in stores to compare prices, look for offers or deals, consult with friends/family about whether to buy and search for product reviews.

“Which of the following behaviors describes your mobile phone usage while in retail stores?”

  • I compare prices of products through Amazon or other online retailers — 31 percent
  • I look for offers and coupons — 30 percent
  • I call friends or family to ask their advice — 28 percent
  • I send pictures of products (or clothes) to friends for advice – 28 percent
  • I look for product reviews — 27 percent
  • Find other stores that have a desired product in stock — 18 percent
  • I scan barcodes or “QR” codes — 15 percent
  • Look for gift ideas — 13 percent
  • I don’t use my phone while shopping in stores — 34 percent

(Multiple answers permitted) 

Conversely, 34 percent said they didn’t use their phones in stores. An earlier Google-sponsored survey this year found the identical number of US smartphone owners (66 percent) used their devices in stores for shopping support. Other smartphone owner surveys conducted this year have found higher in-store usage figures (Pew: 72 percent; JiWire: 80 percent).

M-Commerce Still Not Mainstream

While in-store product research is clearly mainstream among US smartphone owners, so-called “m-commerce” is not. Recent Black Friday weekend data from IBM, Adobe and others argued that between 20 and 25 percent of e-commerce purchases may have come from mobile devices (including tablets). However buying things on one’s smartphone is still a minority use case.

We found that the majority of respondents did not buy things on their phones. This is consistent with most other data in the market. Many people indicated they conducted research on smartphones but later bought something on other devices. Others expressed security concerns or frustration with the checkout process.

“Which of the following best describes your experience with e-commerce/shopping on your mobile phone?”

  • I don’t buy things on my phone; checking out and paying is too difficult — 35 percent
  • I do research on my phone but buy later on a PC – 22 percent
  • I do research and buy things on my mobile phone – 14 percent
  • I have security concerns about credit card transactions — 13 percent
  • I buy things on my mobile phone but only when I have no other option – 11 percent
  • I do research on my phone but buy later on a tablet – 4 percent

(Single response; numbers don’t add up to 100 percent due to rounding.) 

The top single response (“I don’t buy things”) indicates that there’s still too much friction in mobile commerce. In addition 13 percent of respondents were concerned about security and were inhibited from buying accordingly.

Roughly 26 percent of respondents said that they conducted research on smartphones but later transacted on other devices (PC: 22 percent; tablets: 4 percent). Only 14 percent of respondents in our survey were uninhibited “m-commerce” consumers.

Consumers Want Fast-Loading, “Full” Websites

Reflecting other frustrations with mobile shopping our survey showed that consumers were most interested in fast-loading websites and the availability of “full websites” on their smartphones.

Numerous surveys and tests have shown that speed is critical for mobile sites. There’s no surprise there. The idea that consumers want to see “the full website” on their phones is a bit more of a surprise. It may well be that these respondents are expressing frustration with the incomplete or limited experience available on many “mobile sites.”

Alternatively they may be saying they want the identical experience of features or content that they get on the PC web. There’s some room for interpretation. And responsive design enthusiasts may take this as evidence of the correctness of that approach to mobile site design.

“When shopping online from your smartphone, what feature is most important to you?” 

  • The full website is visible on your phone without needing to scroll left or right — 28.4 percent
  • Website loads quickly — 25.7 percent
  • Local Store Locator — 17.8 percent
  • 1 click ordering — 12.5 percent
  • Click to Call Option — 2.9 percent
  • Other — 12.5 percent

(Single response; numbers don’t add up to 100 percent due to rounding.) 

The survey was conducted on November 21-22, 2013 by Marketing Land and SurveyMonkey. Results were collected with a 95 percent confidence interval and a 5 percent margin of error from more than 400 Americans using SurveyMonkey Audience.

See Matt McGee’s companion article, which unpacks more data from this survey about product search, on Search Engine Land: Brand Bias: 70% Of Consumers Look For Known Retailers When Doing Product Searches.

Summary of Findings & Complete Survey Data

Related coverage of the survey results: 

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile Marketing | Statistics | Statistics: Mobile Marketing | Statistics: Popularity & Usage | Top News


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn

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