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Nine out of ten Australian consumers use online media to discover more about products and just over 50% have used a smartphone or tablet to price compare. 

These findings come from Nielsen's latest research study, which was conducted in partnership with eBay and PayPal.

Over 3,000 adult Australians were surveyed as part of the study in an effort to better understand how Australians are using their mobile devices - something all the more pertinent, given the recent revelation that mobile is seeing rapid growth across the region. 

Consumer discovery

Mobiles and tablets are facilitating consumer discovery by allowing shoppers to research products and services anytime, anywhere. It is very clear from the study that personal computers are still leading as the most popular form of technology used to discover products and complete transactions, but mobile devices are making a surge forward, with 47% of consumers saying they use their smartphones to discover products

Other key highlights include: 

  • 32% of consumers saying that they use their mobile to take a photo of a product or service
  • 30% of respondents search for the location of the nearest store/supplier for specific products and services
  • 21% check product or service availability from suppliers 
  • 20% of mobile users read online reviews via their handsets
  • 18% compare prices directly using their phone 
  • 12% of mobile users directly watch videos about products or services 

These results reinforce the notion that shopping is no longer a simple process.

No longer are catalogues or TV ads the main source of product information, now consumers are actively looking online to find out more about what they are buying - and often they are doing it physically from within a store.

In fact, research shows that 95% of online Australians said they use online media for their research or discovery, but perhaps more importantly, this leads to 75% then progressing to make an in-store purchase and 71% making an online purchase. 

Melanie Ingrey, Nielsen's Research Director, emphasises how important it is for marketers and businesses to take advantage of this: 

This is a valuable proposition for today's marketers as mobile devices provide a range of opportunities to support consumer's discovery of what to buy and where to buy it from; not to mention facilitating a means of purchase.     

Path to purchase

Just over 30% of Australian consumers have now used a mobile device to make a transaction, a figure which has grown rapidly over the past 18 months.

There are a variety of triggers that set off a consumer's path to purchase, ranging from a search engine find, to an eDM, to a tweet, to a Pinterest picture, to an app. 

During the research, qualitative comments from respondents regularly emphasised and enforced the strength of mobile (and the potential it has) to facilitate consumer discovery and move shoppers along the path to purchase, which supports the parallel rise of mobile use among consumers in general. 

In January 2011 only 12% of Australians were using their mobiles to make transactions and Ingrey attributes this growth to recent attitudinal shifts towards convenience shopping, as well as an increase in smartphone saturation. 

Ingrey stresses that the path to purchase is no longer a simple and linear process, explaining that this is why it is so important to understand consumers, their behaviours and what is triggering this behaviour: 

Price comparisons, locating retailers, reading reviews and checking product availability are the most common activities overall.

Mobile phones are particularly popular to support searching for retailer locations and taking photos of products to help in the decision making process.

Devices can play complementary roles throughout the customer journey – yet another opportunity for savvy marketers to play to the strengths of each device.  

Moving forward

The ecommerce landscape is in the middle of a huge upheaval and transformation, and Ingrey believes the continued shift in consumer attitude, along with the rapid adoption of smartphones, will continue to drive change in this area. 

The mobile nature of smartphones and tablets provides opportunities for these devices to trigger and influence consumer behaviour at any stage along the path to purchase.

Already mobile behaviours are being triggered by a variety of stimulus that empowers consumers to discover and transact anytime, anywhere, thereby driving in-store as well as mobile purchases and making smartphones and tablets the perfect shopping companion. 

[Image credit: Dan Zen]

Claire Brinkley

Published 18 December, 2012 by Claire Brinkley

Claire Brinkley is Econsultancy Australia's news and insight reporter. Follow her on Twitter, Google+ or connect with her on LinkedIn

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