Smartphone Shopping with Apps? Not So Much

by Net Future Institute on July 2, 2014

By Chuck Martin

Shopping apps still don’t appear to be main stream in terms of usage.

Retailers regularly tell me that most of their mobile commerce is coming through their mobile websites rather than their app.

A new, wide ranging, nationwide study now confirms that high app shopping activity is not yet happening.

Almost half (45%) of smartphone owners never use shopping apps or use them less than monthly, according to the stat-rich survey by the Apigee Institute.

The study found that a relatively small portion (12%) of smartphone owners use shopping apps daily with a quarter (25%) using them weekly.

However, the market is somewhat split concerning how a smartphone or tablet has changed the way people shop, with 15% saying it has completely changed how they shop and 19% saying it has not changed it at all.

Looking ahead, smartphone owners were asked how much they expect how they shop to change over the next two years, and almost half (48%) said they expect their phone or tablet to either completely (9%) or somewhat (39%) change it.

While many shoppers don’t frequently use shopping apps, a large number of them say they would be more likely to shop at stores that have apps with features they want.

Almost half (46%) said they would be more likely to shop at a store that offers an app with a searchable product catalog, featured sales and a store locator.

The study also shows that in-store shopping by app is being done by a relatively small group. Of those doing it either often or very frequently:

22% — Use apps to compare prices with online store
22% — Use apps to research products
21% — Use apps to compare prices with other physical store
12% — Use apps to buy products

The other side of the picture is consistent, with those who never or rarely:

69% — Use apps to buy products
52% — Use apps to compare prices with online store
47% — Use apps to compare prices with other physical store
43% — Use apps to research products

For retail apps, consumers want them to be easy to use and have various features. The study identified what consumers said were the critical features of retail store apps:

65% — Easily usable interface
49% — Store-finder feature
44% — Customer service access
37% — Ability to buy items through the app for delivery
31% — Ability to buy items through the app to pick up in store

The Digital Impact survey or 1,000 smartphone owners was conducted in late November with consumers being asked to assess how mobile devices and apps are affecting their everyday behaviors, tasks and attitudes.

Respondents’ region, age, income, education and gender distribution reflects the U.S. smartphone market based on the Pew Internet & American Life Project omnibus survey.

While some great shopping apps may have been created, it’s now a waiting game for the masses to catch up.


Chuck Martin is Editor of the mCommerce Daily at MediaPost and writes the daily MobileShopTalk column. He is the author of “Mobile Influence,” “The Third Screen,” and “The Smartphone Handbook.” He is CEO of Mobile Future Institute. Chuck Martin is a frequent Mobile Keynote Speaker and Mobile Marketing Speaker internationally. He also addresses Social Media in Mobile.


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