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Smartphone owners now visit shops less often

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Smartphone-owning shoppers are making less frequent visits to stores while at the same time becoming more likely to buy online, according to a study which appears to detect evidence of significant migration to online shopping.

The research, Changing Trends in Multichannel Shopping and Browsing Preferences study from eDigital Research and Portaltech Reply, detects “a major shift in shopping and browsing behaviour”. Most smartphone owners still visit shops to buy, the research found – only 3% of the 684 respondents said they did not – but today they are doing so less often than they did three years ago.

In June 2010, the study found 73% of smartphone owners who bought items in store were going into shops every week. This April, however, that figure stood at 47%.

Some sectors are seeing that change manifest itself in a still more marked way. While 60% of respondents to the study said they bought entertainment results in store in 2010, today that figure stands at 35%. At the same time 62% have bought such products online and 10% have used a mobile site and 9% a mobile app.

Changing behaviour can also be seen in less-likely categories, such as DIY and furniture. In 2010, 70% of shoppers had bought a DIY purchase in store. That’s now down to 45%. Some 33% said they had bought furniture from the high street in the past year compared to 64% three years ago.

Mark Adams, partner at Portaltech Reply , said: “Mobile is fast proving itself to be the glue in any multichannel strategy. The major shift in shopping and browsing behaviour is proof that the customer journey to a purchase has changed and that mobile is significant in this journey.

“An increasing number of smartphone owners now like to browse in store and online, first researching their purchasing intentions. Does this mean they ultimately spend less? That is something retailers must explore to ensure their mobile strategy responds to this new behaviour.

“What we do know is that mobile is becoming more and more significant in the buying process and that customers who use smartphones make purchases more frequently. How retailers choose to integrate mobile into the customer journey, particularly in store, is going to be crucial for their growth.”

Derek Eccleston, commercial director at eDigitalResearch , said: “The way in which we conduct our shopping and browsing has changed. The introduction of first the internet and then mobile devices has fundamentally altered the retail industry. Now consumers are driving change and shopping when they want and how they want. This latest set of results shows that the popularity in online and mobile channels is only likely to continue.

“In order to survive this mobile online revolution, retailer stores need to be innovating, bringing their sometimes more popular digital channels in store to help enhance their customer experience and create a dynamic, exciting and vibrant environment that will keep customers returning through their doors”.

To see a full copy of the Changing Trends in Multichannel Shopping and Browsing Preferences research click here. There will be a short survey to complete.

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