Shoppers are plugged into smartphones and always ‘ready to shop’, report shows

The role of the smartphone in the shopper’s world has been put under the spotlight in Shoppercentric’s latest multi-channel report – WindowOn…Multichannel: Revisited.

“Last year we looked at m-commerce whilst investigating social media and multichannel retail, but with smartphone ownership passing the 50% mark in the UK, we felt it was time to turn our attention properly to m-commerce,” said Danielle Pinnington, managing director at Shoppercentric.

“This is an exciting area for retail, and based on our findings among a sample of smartphone and tablet owners there’s a huge opportunity for retailers and brands to create even better connections with existing and potential customers.”

Key findings:

Not all shopping activity via smartphones is in fact done when shoppers are mobile:

  • Two-thirds of those using their smartphone for any shopping activity primarily do so at home (64%)
  • 8% shop whilst at work
  • Nearly a fifth (19%) shop when on the move/travelling
  • Less than one in 10 shoppers use a smartphone for shopping whilst in-store (9%)

The smartphone generation gap:

  • Younger shoppers are the most likely to make purchases via their smartphone, with 37% of 18-24 year olds and 38% of 25-34 year olds having done so
  • Just 27% of 35–54 year olds have purchased using their smartphone
  • The least amount of orders are placed by 55 year olds plus – with 19%

Bargain hunting via smartphones:

To price check/compare

  • 35-54 year olds are the group using smartphones to compare and check prices the most (53% of those using their phone for any kind of shopping activity). Interestingly in second place is the youngest age group (18–24 year olds)
  • Only 31% of the 55 pluses who use their smartphone for shopping are using them to seek out and compare prices

For discounts/offers/vouchers

  • The youngest group (18-24) appear to be the savviest – with 36% of those using their smartphone for shopping using it for this reason
  • The oldest group comes in last again with just 25% looking for good deals, but the gap between the age groups is smaller for this area

Smartphones aside:

  • The findings implied that tablets were most appealing to the more mature generation of shoppers. Within our sample of mobile device owners, it was the 55+ age group who were most likely to own a tablet (at 59%, 10 percentage points more than any other age group)
  • 60% of those aged 55+ had used their tablet as part of the shopping process and 34% to buy. This seems to be a trend that is set to grow as 10% had only started shopping in this way within the last month – the highest increase of any of the age groups

Smartphone versus tablet:

The way in which devices are being used by their owners for shopping has converged significantly in the last 12 months:    

  • In 2012 there was an eight percentage point difference between the technologies in terms of being used to gather ideas. Today that figure has shrunk to two percentage points. A similar trend can be seen for being used to research purchases before buying
  • No longer is there any difference in device usage for getting advice (versus eight percentage points in 2012 in favour of )
  • In 2012 there was a 20 percentage point difference between devices on which one you would use to buy items – in 2013 this has dropped significantly to just one percentage point

“It’s important that retailers and brands give due consideration to which, where and how shoppers are using smartphones for browsing and buying,” said Pinnington.

“Connectivity and access to free Wi-Fi is no doubt a factor behind high usage from home or the office, but why specifically a smartphone and not a tablet or laptop? Well, our findings imply it’s the immediacy of a smartphone that is so attractive to shoppers since they literally have it with them at all times – always being charged and switched on. It’s also great for remembering you need something and buying it wherever you are, or taking a picture to recall later – something that more mature users acknowledge is particularly useful.

“The more mature smartphone shopper is definitely an area retailers need to attune to as their browsing and buying behaviours are considerably more constrained than any other age group. It could be tempting to jump to the conclusion that screen size and functionality form the greatest barriers for this older generation, however, while these are undoubtedly obstacles to mobile shopping for many, they are issues shared by all age groups. And in fact, it is on a far more fundamental level that older shoppers appear distinct: they are much less likely to recognise a need to shop on the move in this way and one in four just ‘don’t see the point’. Yet this could be the big opportunity for retailers and brands to provide an attractive hook for these instinctive bargain-hunters to join the m-commerce fold. Relatively few of these shoppers share in the delights of voucher/coupon hunting online, but they could secure significant savings on a variety of goods and services if they were marketed to effectively. 

“With their larger screens and ease of touch functionality, it’s also worth flagging that tablets are also of great interest to mature users, so brand owners would do well to consider this lucrative target in their tablet-based strategies, especially as the tablet market develops. Communication and functionality must hit the right buttons with this age group, to build their confidence, capture their imagination and encourage them to take full advantage of the ease and convenience afforded by shopping in this way.

“In conclusion m-commerce is undoubtedly transforming the retail landscape at an unprecedented rate and smartphone usage is at the heart of this change.  The smarter brands and retailers are already adapting their integrated marketing plans to ensure m-commerce is a strong touch point in the purchase process – those that don’t do so at their peril since they risk losing out on significant market share and failing to attract a new generation of shoppers.”