In-store shopping levels fall as shoppers use mobiles to shop and buy, study finds

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Weekly in-store shopping levels have dropped considerably since 2010 as smartphone owners continue to turn to their mobile devices and online channels to shop and browse, according to new research from eDigitalResearch and Portaltech Reply.

The study found just 47% of smartphone owners make a weekly in store purchase, compared to 73% in 2010.

Adoption of smartphone devices has grown in tandem with 62% of consumers owning a smartphone today compared with 38% in the summer of 2010. 

The growing number of smartphone handsets in the UK and the establishment online shopping appears to have had a fundamental effect on the British high street, researchers claim.

While the majority of smartphone owners continue to visit retail stores to shop (just 3% of respondents said they do not), fewer are doing so on a regular basis. In June 2010, nearly three quarters (73%) of smartphone owners who purchased items in store were shopping on a weekly basis. Now, just three years later, this figure has fallen to under half and currently stands at 47%, representing a major shift in shopping and browsing behaviour.

The research also highlights the evolution of changing purchase behaviours across various product categories. Entertainment retailers are the symbol of the current online revolution. According to the results, 35% of respondents stated have bought entertainment goods in store in 2013, compared to 60% in 2010. At the same time, 62% stated they have purchased entertainment products online, while 10% have used a mobile site and 9% a mobile app. This shift has also been witnessed by those retailers specialising in categories that shoppers previously appeared to prefer buying in store, such as DIY and furniture. In 2010, 70% of shoppers had made a DIY purchase in store, compared to 45% nowadays. Similarly, a third (33%) of respondents claimed to have purchased furniture items from the high street in the past 12 months, compared to 64% three years ago.

Mark Adams, partner at Portaltech Reply, said: “Mobile is fast proving itself to be the glue in any multichannel strategy. The major shift in shopping and browsing behaviour is proof that the customer journey to a purchase has changed and that mobile is significant in this journey. An increasing number of smartphone owners now like to browse in store and online, first researching their purchasing intentions. Does this mean they ultimately spend less? That is something retailers must explore to ensure their mobile strategy responds to this new behaviour. What we do know is that mobile is becoming more and more significant in the buying process and that customers who use smartphones make purchases more frequently. How retailers choose to integrate mobile into the customer journey, particularly in store, is going to be crucial for their growth.”

Derek Eccleston, commercial director at eDigitalResearch, said: “The way in which we conduct our shopping and browsing has changed. The introduction of first the internet and then mobile devices has fundamentally altered the retail industry. Now consumers are driving change and shopping when they want and how they want. This latest set of results shows that the popularity in online and mobile channels is only likely to continue. In order to survive this mobile online revolution, retailer stores need to be innovating, bringing their sometimes more popular digital channels in store to help enhance their customer experience and create a dynamic, exciting and vibrant environment that will keep customers returning through their doors.”