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GUEST OPINION Mobile seen as flexible and pragmatic way to buy, but security still and issue says consumers

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SKOPOS Market Insight has recently completed the first wave of MTrack, a series of studies examining mobile behaviour in the UK. Here founder and CEO Darren Mark Noyce looks at what consumers think about mobile retail – and finds some unexpected views

The findings of our first MTtrack studies into consumers behavior on mobile – where we ask real people how they use and perceive mobile – indicate that one in six respondents (17%) have paid for some form of product via their mobile phone and one in eight “non-rejectors” of mobile – that is one in eight of those that don’t dismiss mobile out of hand – see no disadvantages with the procedure.

In fact, mobile purchasing was favoured due to the appeal of flexibility and pragmatism. This was demonstrated by the fact that a majority of relevant respondents (56%) said m-purchasing would be beneficial due to its convenient/on-the-go nature.

Within the retail arena, Tesco, Argos and Asda were the companies most associated with mobile, at 12, 7 and 6% respectively. Other significant British brands were Virgin Media (16%) and the iconic BBC (15%). However, unsurprisingly, the heavyweights of the digital platforms reigned supreme, with Apple leading at 37%.

On average people had downloaded 11 Apps with half downloading approximately five. While results do not indicate a clear preference for either mobile app or web shopping, it was apparent that those who favoured mobile web did so out of familiarity whereas for apps, the major pull factor was visual appeal.

While 17% is a promising figure for a retail platform that is still in its infancy, it is a far cry from being the status quo that many have been predicting. A significant challenge facing large-scale mobile-retail practice ironically lies in the payment procedure. Nearly 40% of respondents who were current or potential m-purchasers named security as a disadvantage of shopping and paying for products on their mobile devices. Most of these were concerned with storing and losing credit card information on their mobiles. The feared scenarios range from losing web connection halfway through a payment transaction, to Bluetooth hacking or physical phone theft.

When asked about it, consumer views tended to say that it was easy for someone to hack in a steal their details or that “[Shopping and paying via a mobile device] takes too much time – need to concentrate fully to do these things”.

In comparison, 13% of respondents cited the small screen as a nuisance when shopping and paying on their mobiles—a majority of whom felt the need to view details for the products they were purchasing, which the small screen does not fully facilitate.

But through this an opportunity arises for tablet retail. Like the mobile it offers mobility while shopping without compromising on product visibility. Eight out of nine iPad users who answered our survey claimed to use the device regularly (more than half claimed daily usage). The same number (8 out of 9) used their iPads for leisure purposes. Two fifths claim to have ordered products or services via the tablet.

The popularity of m-retail searching is also apparent. 45% of respondents said they would use phones with scanning facilities that would enable them to search and source the best prices. Furthermore, 29% would do so if the phone could receive deals or discounts based on their location.

Although the results demonstrate the attractions and restrictions that encapsulate mobile retail purchasing, there remains important findings with regards to what mobiles users find acceptable to pay for on their devices. For instance, the ability to play games on a mobile device means that 29% found it acceptable to pay for downloading new games. For now, it seems mobile retail has a few skeletons to deal with before achieving its full potential as a major platform for shopping and retail. Even more has been rumoured to change with the introduction of NFC-enabled/ touch-and-pay mobiles, due to be rolled out in the UK by some of the most reputable brands across related industries.

In this dynamic and exciting environment, MTrack will continue to uncover insightful and relevant trends on M-retail and mobile behaviour. To have the UK active digital society answer any burning questions required to advance your business, join in with some cutting-edge brands in the industry to conduct Wave 2 of the study – being launched now.

Contact SKOPOS via e-mail at

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