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Sophisticated consumers more accepting than ever of mobile as a shopping channel

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A study by Stibo Systems has found that 59% of consumers have made a purchase on mobile so far this year – twice as many as did this time in 2011. And one in five of these has been made on a tablet, up from only 5% in 2012 and 2% in 2011.

The report also finds that the amount of women (14% in 2013 vs 45% in 2012) who ‘never’ use a mobile device to review products before making a purchase has fallen much faster than men (19% in 2013 vs 36% in 2012). The quantity of women (61% in 2013 vs 37% in 2012) who have purchased a product using their mobile device has increased at a faster rate than men (55% in 2013 vs 43% in 2012).

All areas of purchasing have increased since 2012 with fashion showing the biggest growth (almost half who have purchased on their mobiles bought a fashion item. Entertainment, grocery, luxury and holiday purchases have all increased by more than 5% since 2012.)

The percentage of men (75% in 2013 vs 62% in 2012) purchasing entertainment products has increased at a faster rate than women (54% in 2013 vs 50% in 2012).

The same can be said about fashion, where the percentage of men purchasing a fashion item has tripled (32% in 2013 vs 11% in 2012), doubling for women (60% in 2013 vs 33% in 2012).

Interestingly – and perhaps because of the growing popularity of tablets – the study found that the use of smartphones has dropped slightly and the use of laptops, while still the most popular method, has fallen by 6 points since 2012, and a further 7 since 2011.

On the whole, retailers appear to have acknowledged consumer attitudes to shopping on their mobile devices, as a third of respondents rated their mobile commerce experience as either excellent (10%) or good (21%), up from a 25% in 2012.However, mobile devices themselves still present barriers to successful online retail, with almost a half (48%) of consumers complaining that the screen was too small to satisfactorily read product information, and a similar number (46%) lacking trust in the security of their device.

Legibility aside, in terms of content, three quarters of respondents described it as being very important to be able to access product information online – details of size and colour, for example. This was up 8 points from 67% in 2012, suggesting that consumers are becoming more sophisticated and selective in their online shopping habits. This is further illustrated by a rise in the number of consumers (17%) who were put off from making a purchase due to a lack of available product information.

The use of a mobile device as a means of reviewing a product prior to purchase has continued to rise, with almost half (46%) of respondents – twice as many as last year – saying they always or regularly use it for this purpose.The rapidly growing adoption of mobile as a touchpoint in all stages of the purchase funnel, coupled with increasingly sophisticated consumer use and expectations, demonstrates the need for retailers to fully commit to mobile as a significant portion of their multichannel offering. In addition, as the survey highlights the importance of full and relevant product information during the reviewing and purchasing processes, retailers should consider how they manage this information so that it remains detailed and consistent across all available channels.

Mark Thorpe, UK managing director at Stibo Systems, explains: “Although every year is hailed as the ‘year of the mobile’, there is sufficient evidence in these results to demonstrate that mobile is now a legitimate channel for retailers, particularly with the recent rapid adoption of tablet devices. In order to maximise its benefits, retailers should now pay full attention to mobile commerce, not only to ensure a satisfactory customer experience, but also to meet expectations and avoid disappointment, and the resulting lost sales that this may lead to.”

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