A new survey of UK smartphone and tablet owners shows that mobile is helping to drive an increase in impulse buying, particularly for clothes and music.

However the results also show that security concerns remain a key reason preventing consumers from embracing m-commerce.

The survey, commissioned by Rackspace, interviewed 2,009 smartphone and tablet owners on their attitudes towards various aspects of m-commerce.

It found that just 40% of respondents make purchases using their device, meaning that there is still a huge amount of room for m-commerce to grow even among the current audience of smartphone and tablet owners.

This figure is slightly lower than data from our Multichannel Retail Survey which found that 25% of all UK consumers had made a purchase using their mobile.

As smartphone penetration in the UK is roughly 50%, then this approximately doubles to 50% of the smartphone owning population that have made a purchase using their device.

Impulse buying

Almost one-fifth (17%) of respondents to the Rackspace survey said that mobile devices have increased their impulse purchases.

71% of this group said that the main reason for the increase in spending is that the process is so simple and the technology is so easy to use, while 27% said that the experience of shopping with smartphones and tablets is better than shopping in-store.

As tends to be common with these sorts of surveys, younger respondents were found to be more tech savvy with 62% of 18-34 year olds buying things on the spot today, compared to 32% of those aged older than 55.

The findings highlight the need for retailers to offer customers a convenient, user-friendly m-commerce store to make sure they capture impulse purchases.

In the first instance this means making sure your website is mobile optimised, but also shortening the purchase journey as much as possible by stripping out any unnecessary barriers or form filling.

We previously reviewed the top 20 UK retailers’ mobile checkouts, as well as blogging eight best practice tips for mobile call-to-actions.

Rackspace’s survey also looked at which industries stand to benefit most from the increase in impulse buying.

Clothes are the most popular impulse buy for 41% of mobile shoppers, followed by books (35%), music (32%) and fast food or takeaways (14%).

Security concerns

As mentioned, 60% of those surveyed said they do not shop online using their smartphone or tablet.

A large majority (84%) of this group said that they simply prefer to use their laptop or desktop, while just over a quarter (27%) said that they are worried about security.

Furthermore, 59% are uncomfortable with, or wary of, storing credit card details online and nearly a quarter (22%) of respondents are concerned that retailers will share their details.

The results echo concerns that were flagged up in qualitative research by Webcredible, which found that security, safety, screen size and connectivity were the main barriers to m-commerce adoption.