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Study finds year-on-year increase in use of mobile devices for online shopping

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In the year that has passed since the results of Stibo Systems’s first UK consumer survey were announced, m-commerce – including online shopping via both smartphone and tablet devices – has seen an overall uptake of 10%: the first year on year increase in m-commerce, according to the company.

In 2011 30% of respondents reported using a mobile device for shopping, whereas in 2012, a whopping 40% of respondents reported using a mobile device to make purchases, demonstrating the rapid adoption by consumers of mobile technology.

The survey found that product information is now as important to consumers as ever. Just as in 2011, 2012 saw over two thirds of consumers (67%) having rated product information as ‘very important’ when purchasing high value goods. Also consistently across both years, the survey showed that inaccurate or poor product information across retail channels has a detrimental effect on sales; 16% of customers cited poor product information as a reason for not making an online purchase.

When coupled with data showing that 78% of respondents use mobile devices to review products before making a purchase, it is evident that retailers’ success relies on a commitment to providing accurate product information across all channels.

More broadly, smartphone and tablet mobile devices have risen rapidly as conduits for online shopping, with uptake of +9% and +3% respectively over the past year. While the laptop is still the preferred method for online shopping, favoured by 66% of consumers, online shopping activity via smartphone and tablet devices has now shown to be favoured by 20% of consumers surveyed, as compared to just over 8% in 2011.

This is unsurprising, given that a recent forecast from IT analyst firm Gartner Inc predicts that tablet adoption will grow by 100% in 2012, with a predicted 665 million tablets in use worldwide by 2016. Accordingly, the growth in tablet use for online shopping activity demonstrates a consumer solution to the purchasing barrier presented by the smartphone’s small screen. The increase in tablet adoption in 2012 runs parallel to survey results finding a 10% increase in consumer frustration with the smartphone’s small screen for shopping, cited by 46% of consumers as a deterrent to online shopping.

At the same time that the adoption of mobile devices for online shopping activity has increased, the level of consumer satisfaction has decreased, with only 25% of consumers surveyed stating that they are satisfied with their mobile retail experience, a -2% drop from 2011. The reduction in the number of consumers rating their mobile shopping experiences as ‘excellent’ is due to maturity in the channel, evidence that m-commerce is no longer a practice limited to early adopters.

Mark Thorpe, UK managing director at Stibo Systems, explains: “In producing a year-on-year survey comparison, it is evident that mobile is a key part of a retailer’s multichannel strategy. Retailers must pay attention to this if they are to continue to ensure customer satisfaction throughout the overall shopping experience. As the use of mobile devices becomes more ubiquitous in today’s world, it becomes crucial for retailers to meet customers’ rising expectations surrounding m-commerce. With this in mind, retailers need to ensure that managing master data is at the heart of their multichannel strategy for 2012; as the survey points out, consistent product information is something that consumers look for when shopping, whichever the channel.

“The potential for lost opportunity due to incorrect product information demonstrates retailers’ ongoing need of a product information management solution to be the foundation of their multichannel strategy. Such a solution is key to staying ahead of the curve in multiple channels and reducing lost opportunities and, thus, lost revenue,” he continued.

Other key findings, comparative to 2011, include:

• More than three quarters (78%) of respondents have used their mobile device (smartphones and tablets) to not only browse products but also to review them online before purchasing, as compared to 60% in 2011

• The use of tablet devices to browse products and make online purchases has more than doubled amongst consumers, from 2% in 2011 to 5% on 2012

• Fashion products have seen a rise in purchase via mobile device, with 23% of consumers using mobile devices to purchase fashion products in 2012, as compared to 16% in 2011. Meanwhile, luxury, high-value items have seen a -3% drop in mobile sales over the past year

• In 2012, consumer awareness concerning the possibility of m-commerce has increased; however, correspondingly, security concerns with regards to m-commerce have also increased, with 42% of consumers in 2012 having cited security concerns as a barrier to m-commerce, as compared to 36% in 2011

• In 2011, women (20%) were more likely to use a mobile device to purchase grocery items than men (11%). However, in 2012, this trend reversed, with men (16%) taking the lead in using m-commerce for grocery shopping over women (12%).

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