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In 2013 the percentage of in-store sales where mobile phones were used as part of the shopping journey in the UK stood at 6.8%. This equates to £18bn of sales, a figure 45% up on 2012.

This comes from a recent study by Deloitte Digital, where 2,000 consumers were polled on their smartphone usage in relation to in-store purchasing.

Consumers who used their mobile phones before or during their shopping trip were more likely than the average shopper to make a purchase. Those using a smartphone during a shopping trip were almost twice as likely to make a purchase.

Last year, David Moth looked at Deloitte Digital’s 2012 mobile influence report in which Deloitte revealed that almost half (46%) of UK smartphone owners have used their mobile device to research product information.

2012's report also saw Deloitte predict that around 6% of in-store retail sales will be influenced by smartphone use, an equivalent to £15.2bn of sales per year. As we can see from the 2013 figure, Deloitte were a little conservative in this estimate.

Looking ahead, Deloitte forecasts that mobile influence will rise in line with smartphone ownership, reaching 10%-15% of in-store sales by 2017, representing a possible £27bn-£41bn in sales.

The research also shows that mobile influenced consumers spend more on average.

According to this chart, mobile influenced consumers are more valuable customers. Those that used their mobile phone during a shopping trip spent 61% more than the average. Those who didn’t use their mobile phones spent 10% less.

What products are mobile influenced consumers purchasing? 

Unsurprisingly it’s the big ticket electrical items that show the largest percentage in customers researching the product on a mobile in-store.

  • Electronic goods/appliances: 79%
  • Sporting goods/games/toys: 75%
  • Furniture/home furnishings: 72%
  • Food/beverages: 55%
  • Health/personal care: 51%

It’s obvious why the most expensive goods are the most heavily researched on a smartphone in-store: they’re a bigger investment that requires a lot more thought and justification. 

It’s also far more convenient to do your store-to-store research on a mobile in one location, rather than traipsing across town to various retail parks in the possibly vain assumption that another store might have your washing machine in stock and that it might be cheaper. 

Consumers aren’t just price-comparing on mobiles. They’re also looking at product reviews for the specific item, and also comparing those reviews to rival manufacturer’s goods.

How can retailers adapt to mobile influenced shoppers?

Graham Charlton wrote in his article 10 inspiring uses of mobile in retail various ways in which stores can capitalise on consumer's increasing mobile dependence.

The most relevant examples to this study would be the use of customer reviews in-store. If there were direct links, perhaps via a QR code, next to the product that took smartphone users to the store’s own ecommerce site where they could find customer reviews, perhaps this would keep the potential customer from wandering elsewhere. 

The ability to pay in-store via a mobile app is hugely convenient. Although for those of us that have wandered for ages around an Apple store looking for a counter to pay, we may need steering in the right direction.

Offering in-store only incentives via mobile, limited time-critical discounts or coupons for example, can drive footfall and retain those who may be prone to showrooming.

Directly competing with ecommerce, in terms of what consumers perceive to be the advantages of online shopping, would also help to bring the online offline: free delivery, price-matching with online stores and click and collect can all add to a richer in-store experience and strengthen the retailer's connection to its own ecommerce site.

For more information, here’s our latest Mobile Marketing and Commerce Report 2013.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 2 January, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (1)

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Joel Siddall

Great article, thank you for sharing. There are some very interesting statistics here.

over 2 years ago

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