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Mobile is playing an increasingly important role in the way that customers browse and research purchases, with a third of smartphone users browsing retail sites on their phones.
A survey by eDigital Research used a sample of 1,200 mobile users, half of which had smartphones, asked how people used phones as part of the research and purchase process.
Mobile commerce on smartphones increasing
The results back the growing focus of retailers on mobile commerce, with a third of smartphone users browsing retail sites on their phones for research or to make a purchase.
Smartphones now accounted for 17.5% of handsets in the UK at the end of last year, with the number of users estimated at 6.5m, a number that is likely to have increased since then.
This is a significant and growing market for retailers to target, and also a more active segment in terms of online shopping. The survey found that 30% of smartphone owners shop online at least once a week, compared with 17% with 'ordinary' phones.
At the moment, 13% of smartphone owners conduct more than 20% of their shopping via mobile, while 4% do more than 60%. This is expected to grow, with 20% planning to shop more on their phones.
Also, after their experience of mobile commerce, 93% would shop on their mobiles again. Convenient browsing and 24/7 access are among the benefits stated by users.
Where do customers use their mobiles for shopping?
55% of those who shopped online from their phones did this outside the home, and 28% are doing this during times when they would have been otherwise inaccessible to retailers; during lunch breaks, while waiting for something, or on transport.
The fact that 45% shop via mobile from home in perhaps surprising as you would expect them to use laptops or PCs if available, though perhaps they find it more convenient to shop from the comfort of the sofa.
Over a quarter (27%) of smartphone users have downloaded shopping apps for their phones, and 56% of this segment have used these apps to make a purchase. This shows the value of the app audience for retailers.
Among the retailers that people would like to see apps for, Boots, M&S and Superdrug were the most popular choices.
The top five desired features of shopping apps were: alerts for sales or offers, PayPal checkout, alerts for new stock, the ability to purchase through the app, and being able to browse the entire range.