Google has a unique viewpoint from which to look at mobile’s part to play in the customer journey.

SERPs, AdWords, Google Maps, Google Chrome, Google accounts – all have a part to play. And perhaps soon Google Wallet and Google Glass.

I attended Latitude’s client summit last week and listened to Harry Davies, Lead Product Marketing Manager, Large Customer Marketing, at Google (helping customers get the most from search).

I’ve tried to sum up some of what Harry had to say, giving an overview of mobile’s involvement in retail in 2013.


(Multi-tasking performed by the frazzled)

We’re all frazzers, so when we have to do some shopping, we often get distracted.

It might start when you’re watching television. A Google and IPSOS study from September 2012 showed that 44% of us have browsed the internet while watching television (second most common activity behind emailing, at 60%).

If you don’t get round to buying an item or researching it at home on your couch, you’ll likely be out and about, using your smartphone to assist in your search or purchase. Smartphone penetration is advanced enough that by the end of 2013, we can safely start to think of these behaviours as being applicable to the majority of consumers. 

Smartphone penetration in the UK (TNS Enumeration study 2013)

  • 2011: 30%
  • 2012: 51%
  • 2013: 63%
  • End of 2013: 75%?

Sequential shopping

The same TNS study reveals that 56% ‘shop’ on their smartphone. I’ve added the inverted commas because sequential use is seen here.

Sequential, in that 61% of us that start shopping on a smartphone then go to a desktop to complete purchase.

Responsive websites and consistent UX (Harry gave the example of Curry’s) make this switching back and forth between devices easier than ever.

Additionally, more and more people are permanently signed in to their Google account, and more are using Chrome’s other-device history to browse again on desktop, mobile or tablet. 

What happens to smartphone shoppers that buy?

Of smartphone browsers that go on to buy, 24% found a store locator and bought in-store. 18% completed the purchase on their phone. Check out Google's full view on multi-screen usage.

Google Maps has a big impact on shopping behaviour. Half of all Google maps usage happens on mobiles. Google is experimenting with Peter Jones in Sloane Square to provide in-store maps.

So maps can direct you from your current location to the perfumery counter of a department store. And this can be increasingly activated by voice.


Once in store..

A Cisco and Google survey in 2012 showed that 45% of smartphone users have researched products in-store. 20% of those consumers change their mind after said research.

Barcode scanner apps are a great method for consumers to do a quick price comparison, with a lot of them providing local data through Google product searches, advising where a particular product and price can be found. 

Call on me

And, of course, phones call. Using click-to-call in AdWords campaigns will enable mobile customers to easily get through to your call centre.

The ad can be set to display during call centre opening times. High value or complex goods are often easier to sell or up-sell on a phone call.

Google’s ‘Full Value of Mobile’ calculator allows retailers to calculate the value of mobile – from calls, apps, in-store, cross-device etc. by looking at traffic levels and conversion. You can link it to your AdWords data, too.

Wallet and Glass – getting rid of barriers

Harry took some questions and discussed the mix of physical and digital. Google Wallet and Google Glass, he advanced as products designed to get rid of obstructions to the consumer and the business. What if shop-workers were consultants, freed from the point of sale, free to discuss the products and interact with customers? No more standing behind a till all day.

Indeed, Apple Stores have led the way with this. You can use the products, talk to actual experts and only when you’re ready to buy do you need to broach the topic.

At which point, you can pay with a card, or with your Apple ID, just by touching your iPhone to a reader. 

Knowing mobile

Harry summed up thus, for those not knowing where to start.

  1. Find out how many of your customers interact via mobile.
  2. Assess the value these interactions add.
  3. Measure everything you can.
Ben Davis

Published 8 July, 2013 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (4)

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Editor at EconsultancyStaff

To add, I noticed some more indoor mapping over the weekend, at the British Museum

about 5 years ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Editor at EconsultancyStaff

And to add further (my own comments silently billowing away), SMS plays a part.

'Collect in-store' functionality or 'Click and collect' uses SMS to inform users that items are ready, or to send a confirmation number.

This is useful if users don't have a smartphone, or as backup to an email confirmation. Another consideration to add to the mix.

(thanks to TextLocal for tweeting us).

about 5 years ago


Michaela Clement-Hayes, Communications Executive at FusePump Ltd

Very good points Ben.

I think indoor mapping on mobile has been long overdue, especially for someone like me who always gets lost in the British Museum (and in department stores actually).

It might also help to entice people to visit these places as it's a quick overview of what's available inside. I've just looked and the Natural History Museum is also offering this service - fantastic!

about 5 years ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Editor at EconsultancyStaff


Yep, I hadn't realised the scale of the rollout, since 2011,

And that you upload add your own map

Google's last update a couple of months ago has included lots more targeted local information in maps, and this is a big step.

Something like Apple's WiFiSLAM will push this along further and I see Google as wanting to influence more and more of 'the real world', with Glass etc in mind

about 5 years ago

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