Why Mobile Shoppers Head to Stores: 47% Want to See Items, 41% Want to Take Them Home

by Net Future Institute on November 30, 2015

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By Chuck Martin

While most consumers have smartphones they use for shopping, most of the actual purchasing still happens in a physical store.

Numerous studies have been pointing to this phenomenon for some time. Even though people can somewhat easily make a purchase from a mobile phone, they still would rather do it in a store.

The twist is that mobile is used throughout the shopping process, as I’ve regularly written about here.

A new survey now points to some of the reasons consumers want to go the store to shop, combined with some of the implications of tapping into mobile along the way.

Much of the activity while in a store involves using a phone for various activities, based on the survey of 1,000 U.S. smartphone owners conducted by Research Now for Swirl.

More consumers prefer to shop in a physical store so they can see and touch products before making a purchase. At the bottom of the list is turning to sales associates for help. Here’s why consumers say they like to shop in stores:

  • 47% —  See/touch items before buying
  • 41% —  Ability to take it home immediately
  • 30%  — Take advantage of sales
  • 30% —  Redeem offers/coupons
  • 22% —  Enjoy the experience (it’s fun)
  • 20%  — More secure than buying online
  • 11% —  Get assistance from sales associates

During the Mobile Shopping Life Cycle, consumers use their phones a lot, since with mobile consumers can always be shopping. Before they even head to a store, 63% of consumers use their smartphones to help prepare for the shopping trip. And once they get to the store, here’s how they use their phones, according to the survey:

  • 57% — Look for offers/coupons
  • 52% — Compare prices
  • 49% — Get more product information on a product or category
  • 42% — Create shopping lists
  • 40% — Access social media/friends

Other research has shown that in-store shoppers would rather use their phones rather than turn to sales associates.

“They’re looking at their smartphones in the store, so the question for retailers is: ‘What are you going to do about it?’” said Rob Murphy, vice president of marketing at Swirl.

This is not to say that people don’t buy on mobile phones, just notmost people. For example, the recent Demandware Shopping Index found that mobile accounted for 41% of digital commerce traffic globally and 21% of online commerce sales.

For online sales, various studies generally peg the mobile component at 20% to 30%.

For a holiday snapshot, the latest IBM Watson Trend report shows mobile (smartphone and tablet) traffic accounting for almost half (48%) of all online traffic and for 27% of all online sales.

The Swirl survey also found that 27% of smartphone owners make a purchase via mobile at least once a week, compared to 68% buying in a store.

Studies consistently show that in-store shoppers are looking for product information and checking prices, along with always being on the lookout for deals.

Prior to mobile, that research had to be done either online or manually in a store, which could require visits to multiple stores. Mobile has changed that to a dynamic, in-store and on-the-fly process.

Consumers in stores now have much more information at their fingertips, causing a relocation of where certain shopping activities occur. Here are the most common in-store behaviors:

  • 77% — Check prices
  • 76% — Look for or take advantage of sales
  • 74% — Touch and feel items
  • 66% — Buy items
  • 59% — Compare items side by side
  • 51% — Redeem coupons/offers
  • 51% — Learn about products from displays and packages
  • 50% — Explore/browse for new ideas

Consumers are looking for the best deals. And mobile shoppers will be tapping to easily see who has them.

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