We already know that mobile shopping is growing, in step with the growing group of smartphone and tablet owners, but what kinds of activities are mobile shoppers pursuing? Considering the varying mobility between tablets and smartphones, it’s little surprise that mobile shopping activities often depend on which device is used as much as where it’s being used.
U.S. mobile shoppers use their devices most frequently in the home, according to Nielsen, as more than two-thirds of smartphone shoppers and four-out-of-five tablet shoppers do—sometimes while watching TV. While shopping on their mobile devices, tablet owners are more active with product research (59%) and are more likely to purchase physical items (38%) than smartphone shoppers (24%).
Smartphone shoppers are more active outside the home, but they are more likely to do certain mobile shopping activities from home, such as reading reviews and using social media to make a comment on a purchase. Even though smartphones and tablets are made to be mobile, some mobile shoppers never leave the couch while they’re shopping, as 95 percent of tablet shoppers and 72 percent of smartphone shoppers who make a purchase with their device do so at home, although tablet users are more likely to make a purchase overall.
For mobile shoppers who make a purchase in a retail store, smartphones are constant companions and the in-store device of choice for most. En route to the store, 70 percent of smartphone shoppers use a store locator to plan their shopping trip. Once they arrive at the store, 37 percent stay organized using lists while shopping on their phones. Savvy mobile shoppers use their devices to check prices, and the majority of smartphone (63%) and tablet (53%) owners search and scan their way to savings, though more smartphone owners do this while in a retail store. And the savings continue at the checkout lane, where smartphone shoppers are more likely to use their devices for mobile coupons (34%) and for payment (23%).
But the experience doesn’t end at the checkout line. When mobile shoppers get back home, they pick up their tablets to track and share their shopping experience on the Web. Twenty percent write comments on social media and 16 percent use their tablets to write reviews of their purchases. Among tablet shoppers, 17 percent said they follow up on their purchase by looking up information on a complementary product. And for those that never leave home to shop, the majority of smartphone (55%) and tablet (52%) shoppers said they use their devices to track the progress of their online orders.
COMMENTARY: The Monetate Q1 2013 Ecommerce Quarterly gives insight on smartphone vs tablet vs desktop share of audience for large Ecommerce brands. The alert linked to above gives more information on their volume and some add-to-cart / basket data for referrers also.
This source is useful since it’s a regular survey showing the growth in use of mobile site visitors. You can see that tablet and smartphone use nearly doubled in the year based on 500 million visits for these retail clients (see link above for methodology). Mobile share is now around 25% on average.
This data also enables you to drill down to see usage by device type, for example iPad is still the dominant tablet, but Kindle Fire and Android tablets now account for 10% of tablets.
If you’re creating a business case for mobile optimised sites as explained in our mobile marketing strategy guide, this data is also valuable since it shows the variation in conversion rate by mobile type. In Q1 2013 tablets exceeded traditional desktop devices for conversion rates for the first time suggesting people are increasingly comfortable with the experience of buying on tablets.
This suggests smartphones are more of browse or research platform rather than a buy platform since many of the large retailers featured in this survey will have mobile optimised sites.
April 2013 update: App usage (80% of time) dominates browsers in mobile usage
We reported comScore data in May 2012 that showed that on smartphones 82% of mobile media time is via apps. This is a key insight as companies decide whether to develop mobile apps or create mobile device specific apps. In April 2013 mobile analytics vendor Flurry released a useful summary of category of app usage across smartphones and tablets and similarly to the previous report it shows that app usage dominates browser usage as they put it: It’s an App World. The Web Just Lives in It. You do have to be careful about interpreting this though, since Facebook, games and utility apps will naturally have the greatest time spent and browser use is still significant by volume if not proportion.