Survey: 90 Percent Of Retail Shoppers Use Smartphones In Stores

Mobile loyalty company SessionM recently surveyed 12,000 randomly selected US smartphone users about their mobile shopping behaviors. The company found that 85 percent of respondents said their m-commerce buying was steady or had increased versus a year ago.

While roughly 15 percent said mobile buying had increased “significantly,” personal data security and/or poor user experiences (e.g., product images too small) were cited as barriers to the further growth of mobile e-commerce.

More than 90 percent of respondents said they had made a retail purchase in the past 90 days. The great majority (73 percent) had made those purchases in a traditional, physical store. Roughly 53 percent agreed that the in-store experience was still superior to online/mobile shopping.

However, confirming the findings of many earlier surveys, the overwhelming majority (90 percent) said they use their smartphones in stores while shopping. The top activities on smartphones while in-stores were the following:

  1. Price comparisons — 54 percent
  2. Looking up product information — 48 percent
  3. Checking reviews online — 42 percent

Another top in-store smartphone behavior, not on this list, is seeking coupons or deals. Though not in top three above, in-store deal-seeking is consistently found to be one of the top smartphone uses.

Two important marketing opportunities for retailers were identified (or reinforced) in the data:

As indicated, the SessionM data confirm a well established, growing body of consumer survey and behavioral data around in-store smartphone usage. Yet most retailers have been painfully slow to take advantage of it (rather, they cry “showrooming”).

Deals and loyalty programs are two reasons for shoppers to download a retailer app, which can then get them to opt-in to notifications. Mobile payments is another reason, but in most cases, that functionality isn’t ready.

Retailers must see in-store smartphone usage as an extension of the traditional retail experience and adapt their apps, mobile sites and in-store signage (and other marketing) to take account of and leverage smartphone shopper behavior. Believe it or not, eight years in, there’s still an opportunity to be a mobile “early adopter” in retail.


About The Author

Greg Sterling
Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk, about connecting the dots between digital media and real-world consumer behavior. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.