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Mobile increases multichannel influence

By Retail Technology | Monday July 1 2013

Consumer research indicates shoppers are permanently 'plugged into' their smartphones and 'ready to shop'

Independent shopper research agency Shoppercentric recently launched the latest update to its multichannel report. 

Entitled, WindowOn…Multichannel: Revisited, the research follows up from Shoppercentric’s multichannel report launched in February 2012, but this time reviews the role of the smartphone in the shopper’s world.
“Last year we looked at m-commerce while investigating social media and multichannel retail, but with smartphone ownership passing the 50% mark in the UK, we felt it was time to turn our attention properly to m-commerce,” said Danielle Pinnington, managing director at Shoppercentric. 

“This is an exciting area for retail, and based on our findings among a sample of smartphone and tablet owners there’s a huge opportunity for retailers and brands to create even better connections with existing and potential customers.”
Consumer mobile usage varied

The research found that not all shopping activity via smartphones is in fact done when shoppers are mobile. Two-thirds (64%) of those using their smartphone for any shopping activity primarily do so at home, nearly a fifth (19%) shop when on the move or travelling and 8% shop whilst at work. In reference to the m-commerce trend instore towards 'showrooming,' less than one in ten (9%) shoppers use a smartphone for shopping while instore.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, younger shoppers emerged as the most likely to make purchases via their smartphone, with 37% of 18-24 year olds and 38% of 25-34 year olds having done so. But 35-54 year olds were the group using their smartphones to compare and check prices the most (53% of those using their phone for any kind of shopping activity). 

The findings also implied that tablets were most appealing to the more mature generation of shoppers. Within our sample of mobile device owners, it was the over-55 age group who were most likely to own a tablet (at 59%, ten percentage points more than any other age group). A further 60% in this age group had used their tablet as part of the shopping process and 34% to buy. The research noted this seems to be a trend that is set to grow, as 10% had only started shopping in this way within the last month – the highest increase of any of the age groups.

Catering to form factor differences
Pinnington stressed it was important that retailers and brands give due consideration to which, where and how shoppers are using smartphones for browsing and buying. Connectivity and access to free Wi-Fi is no doubt a factor behind high usage from home or the office, but she questioned why specifically a smartphone and not a tablet or laptop? 

"Well, our findings imply that it’s the immediacy of a smartphone that is so attractive to shoppers since they literally have it with them at all times – always being charged and switched on," responded Pinnington. "It’s also great for remembering you need something and buying it wherever you are, or taking a picture to recall later – something that more mature users acknowledge is particularly useful.”
She continued: “The more mature smartphone shopper is definitely an area that retailers need to attune to, as their browsing and buying behaviours are considerably more constrained than any other age group. It could be tempting to jump to the conclusion that screen size and functionality form the greatest barriers for this older generation, however, while these are undoubtedly obstacles to mobile shopping for many, they are issues shared by all age groups. 

"In fact, it is on a far more fundamental level that older shoppers appear distinct: They are much less likely to recognise a need to shop on the move in this way and one in four just ‘don’t see the point’. Yet this could be the big opportunity for retailers and brands to provide an attractive hook for these instinctive bargain-hunters to join the m-commerce fold. Relatively few of these shoppers share in the delights of voucher/coupon hunting online, but they could secure significant savings on a variety of goods and services if they were marketed to effectively." 

Managing tablet generation
With their larger screens and ease of touch functionality, Pinnington also flagged that tablets are also of great interest to mature users, so brand owners would do well to consider this lucrative target in their tablet-based strategies, especially as the tablet market develops. "Communication and functionality must hit the right buttons with this age group, to build their confidence, capture their imagination and encourage them to take full advantage of the ease and convenience afforded by shopping in this way."
In conclusion, Pinnington said m-commerce is undoubtedly transforming the retail landscape at an unprecedented rate and smartphone usage is at the heart of this change. "The smarter brands and retailers are already adapting their integrated marketing plans to ensure m-commerce is a strong touch point in the purchase process – those that don’t do so at their peril since they risk losing out on significant market share and failing to attract a new generation of shoppers.”
Dr Susan Rose, associate professor in marketing management at Henley Business School, added: “The arrival of the smartphone has brought significant changes, and some may say huge improvements, to the way in which we all lead our lives today. This most recent Shoppercentric report provides really up-to-date insights into how shoppers are responding to these changes and the ways in which shopping behaviour is changing across the multichannel landscape.”

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