"The UK is just starting to get its feet wet when it comes to offering mobile applications for mobile phone users to enhance the in-store shopping experience," says Larry Freed, President and CEO of ForeSee Results
As part of its annual research on the Top 30 internet retailers in the UK, Foresee this year also decided to study how and when shoppers are using mobile applications. The researchers found that the vast majority of online shoppers in the UK have mobile phones (95%, compared to 90% of American shoppers) and 25% have used their phone while shopping but, so far, only in a basic way.
The vast majority of shoppers who did use a mobile phone as part of their shopping experience did not make heavy use of retailer-originated mobile apps or internet-based product information. In fact:
- 65% used their phone to get a simple opinion about a purchase
- 40% sent a picture of a product they might choose
- 19% looked at comparison prices
- 13% looked at product reviews
Perhaps most importantly, Foresee found that there is a greater likelihood for shoppers who use their mobiles whilst browsing to purchase offline rather than online (62% compared with 58%) and shoppers who use a mobile phone as part of an in-store shopping experience are seven per cent more likely to buy something in a store than those who don't.
"People are using phones to call someone for advice and it seems that more often than not, the opinion they get encourages them to buy the item," says Foresee. "Perhaps stores should consider 'phone-a-friend' promotions to encourage this kind of shopping behaviour?"
On the down side, though, Foresee also found that people who use mobile phones while shopping are slightly less loyal, less satisfied, and less likely to return to the retailers' website, perhaps because they are heavily influenced by the attitudes and input of others.
"Mobile apps offer a huge opportunity for British retailers to encourage in-store purchases, especially considering the high-rate of mobile penetration in the UK," Foresee concludes. "25% is not an insignificant number, especially considering the small but growing use of smart phones and the fact that many retail mobile apps were new this season or still in beta testing. For the 2009 Christmas shopping season, we should see usage of mobile phones during in-store shopping experiences double, at least."