More than half (57%) of smartphone owners have used their device to search for information while out shopping, according to data from our new Mobile Commerce Compendium.

The most common smartphone activity was comparing prices (63%) with other retailers, followed by looking for a discount voucher online (42%) and looking for product information or other options on a different retailer’s website (34%).

This raises a difficult dilemma for retailers, as the natural urge is to try and prevent customers from shopping at their competitors using the mobile web but in reality it’s impossible to prevent people from doing it.

Offline retailers need to find new ways of embracing this consumer behaviour and turning it to their advantage. The most obvious is to make sure customers are carrying out these activities on their mobile sites and apps rather than those of competitors. 

Retailers such as Debenhams and House of Fraser have acknowledged the need for this, and both now have optimised websites and apps, along with in-store wi-fi to provide a better experience for mobile shoppers. 

While nothing can guarantee that mobile shoppers won't check competitors, this does reduce the likelihood that they will use Amazon's mobile site. 

While price comparison is the most common activity, there are plenty here that retailers can turn to their own advantage, by offering vouchers for mobile shoppers for instance. 

What type of information or service have you searched for on your smartphone while in-store?

How to make the most of showrooming

It’s an issue discussed in more detail in the new report, but the most obvious method of taking advantage of showrooming is to offer customers free Wi-Fi. This improves the in-store experience and also enables them to access additional product information which may help to encourage a sale. 

Furthermore it’s an opportunity for data capture, as half (51%) of the smartphone owners in our survey said that they would be willing to exchange their email address in return for free Wi-Fi.

Another method of using mobile to enhance the in-store experience is by displaying QR codes, and product page URLs as a means of accessing further product information and reviews.

Reviews are proven to increase sales and conversions online so there’s no reason the same tactic can’t work in-store.

However our survey shows that only a quarter (25%) of smartphone owners have scanned a QR code in-store while 9% are still unaware of the technology.

There’s still some way to go before QR codes are an accepted part of the shopping experience, if they ever are. 

Have you ever scanned a QR code in-store?

The data comes from a Toluna survey of 1,000 UK consumers, the full results of which are included in our new Mobile Commerce Compendium.

This 125 page guide contains tips and advice on how mobile can be used in-store and as part of a broader multichannel strategy, as well as mobile commerce and mobile search.

David Moth

Published 27 June, 2013 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (3)



A great way for businesses to encourage people to buy in their shop is by offering something like a special discount and get their message in front of consumers at a point in time when they are in a decision making frame-of-mind. Mobile advertising (more specifically Local Based Advertising) does that perfectly. Zaawi is a platform that help people to reach customers and prospect in the neighbourhood of the shop.

about 5 years ago

Heledd Jones

Heledd Jones, Marketing Manager at Admiral Loans

My mum-in-law wants to buy an iPad so went to Tesco and looked at their prices and then used their iPad to have a look at Amazon prices which were much cheaper... and Tesco didn't offer a price promise... I don't know what the solution is but this seems like a problem that is only going to get bigger for retailers!

about 5 years ago

John Waghorn

John Waghorn, Content Marketer at Koozai Ltd

This doesn’t surprise me, partly because I am guilty of doing exactly the same thing. I agree that it’s difficult for retailers to compete against one another, especially with our own technological habits, but as you say, an optimised mobile site and a decent, user-friendly app is certainly one way to maintain customer engagement.

Companies need to incentivise people to want to shop with them every time and using modern technology (QR codes, in-store Wi-Fi) is one way of achieving this. Companies also need to adapt with these changes instead of working against them.

about 5 years ago

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