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A quarter of consumers have accessed the internet from their smartphones whilst out shopping

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A quarter of consumers have used their smartphone to access websites whilst out shopping as retailers begin to offer free wifi to in-store customers, according to the latest eCustomerServiceIndex (eCSI) results from eDigitalResearch and IMRG.

Emails, retail websites and social media sites are the most popular to visit, with 59%, 50% and 48% of consumers respectively saying that they have all accessed these when out shopping on the high street.

A staggering 62% of these have accessed a mobile retail site while in the store of another retailer, marking both a threat and an opportunity for high street and multichannel brands. Of these, an overwhelming 71% said that they did so to check if they could get a product cheaper elsewhere. Another 14% said that they did so to read customer reviews, whilst just 4% said they were looking at other retailers’ sites for a similar product.

Perhaps more importantly, 40% of these browsers have gone on to make an actual purchase. 65% said that the reason behind the transaction was down to price, whilst another 26% said they did so due to a special or limited offer on specific products at another retailer. Only 7% said that an online only offer was the reason behind their purchase.

Derek Eccleston, Research Director at eDigitalResearch, explains: “Mobile is increasing becoming the cement between stores and websites. If retailers want to drive their mobile strategies forward with mobile sites, shopping apps and localised deals, then it is important that they offer customers to ability to connect. As John Lewis rolls out free wifi across all of its stores, and as Tesco continues to trial the idea, a quarter (25%) of consumers are telling us that they would use their mobiles more whilst they shop if free wifi was more readily available, highlighting the importance for retailers to consider the possibility and the potential an in store internet connection could offer them”.

The results also highlight the growing use of QR codes by retailers to enhance shopping experiences. Over half (55%) have seen a QR code whilst out shopping before, yet just under half (46%) know how to use them. 33% of these have scanned a QR code whilst out shopping before, representing just 15% of all shoppers.

David J Smith, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at IMRG, adds: “The results of this research further reinforce our expectation that this could be the first truly mobile Christmas for retailers. The development of a multichannel strategy is becoming absolutely crucial for consumer engagement, as demonstrated by consumer willingness to shop around at alternative retailers even within another retailer’s store.

“QR codes are one to watch as, although only 46% know how to use them, they are increasingly becoming a staple in retail marketing. If they are felt to have serious potential by a large retailer, a campaign centred around scanning them to gain access to savings for example could really increase their perceived value to consumers.”

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