Study: Mobile Devices Overtake PCs for Interaction With Retail Sites

When it comes to consumers' love of all things digital, using tablets and smartphones to interact with retailers is high on their list. According to a report produced in partnership with comScore and The Partnering Group and released at's Annual Summit, in June 2013 more than half (55 percent) of all retail-related Internet time originated on smartphones and tablet devices combined, compared with just 45 percent originating from desktop devices.

Specifically, smartphone internet usage in June 2013 totaled 44 percent of retail Internet minutes, up from 17 percent in June 2010; and tablet internet usage accounted for 11 percent of total minutes on retail sites.

During Q2 2013, m-commerce dollars totaled $4.7 billion or 8.6 percent of total U.S. e-commerce dollars that quarter. Additionally, between Q2 2012 and Q2 2013, m-commerce grew 24 percent, compared to 16 percent growth in e-commerce as a whole.

"Since U.S. consumers now spend more than half of their time on retailers' websites using their smartphones and tablets, mobile can't be viewed simply as an ancillary device or action,  it now epitomizes how consumers think and act when they interact with retailers," said executive director Vicki Cantrell. "Retailers have to continue to invest to make sure they get their mobile offerings right, or will increasingly risk alienating customers and leaving significant money on the table."

When it comes to popular mobile content categories, retail was one of the fastest-growing areas among consumers. From June 2012 to June 2013, retail grew 49 percent as a content category on smartphones, only behind beauty and fashion, home and lifestyle, and instant messaging services. 

The report found that online consumers use their smartphone and tablet devices for many shopping-related activities. As for in-store mobile activities, in Q2 this year nearly six in 10 (57 percent) of smartphone users visited the same company's site or app while in the store, compared to 43 percent who consulted another company's site or app. The top reason consumers consulted the retailer's or another company's website or app was to view price differences.

"Retailers have an immediate opportunity to proactively encourage shoppers to use in-store Wi-Fi and engage with the retailer's mobile-enabled websites and apps," said Peter Leech, Managing Director of The Partnering Group, "It's a big opportunity to capture those eyeballs before they seek an alternate source of product detail and pricing information on another retailer's mobile offering."

Among those smartphone users who went to the same retailer's site, 59 percent wanted to see if there was an online discount available.  Similarly, among those who checked a different retailer's site, 92 percent wanted to see if they could get a better deal on price.  Smartphone owners also used their devices while in the store to take a picture of a product (23 percent), text or call family or friends about a product (17 percent), and send a picture of a product to family and friends (17 percent).

"Mobile is having a profound effect on how people engage with the retail experience today," said LynÉe Alves, director of retail solutions at comScore. "Not only are consumers using their mobile devices to engage more with retail sites and apps, they are also beginning to transact on these devices in a meaningful way. The m-commerce revolution is building momentum, and retailers must adapt to this new landscape if they are to succeed in this emerging channel."

Additional highlights from the report that signal continued evolution in the marketplace:
  • One-third (35 percent) of smartphone owners in Q2 2013 used their device to locate a store, one-quarter (24 percent) used it to find coupons and deals, and 19 percent used it to look up product availability.
  • Among consumers who made a purchase online in Q2 2013, 69 percent of those purchases came from desktop devices, compared to 34 percent from tablets and 21 percent from smartphones.
  • The average spend in Q2 2013 was higher on smartphones compared to tablets: shoppers spent an average of $97 on smartphones, compared to $76 on tablets.
  • Nearly two-thirds of smartphone owners in Q2 2013 used a browser to research product features (64 percent), and more than half used a browser to find a store location (59 percent) and to find coupons/deals (53 percent). Seven in 10 (72 percent) smartphone owners report using only apps to make shopping lists, as well as 46 percent who do so to view daily deals.
  • Apparel and accessories (37 percent) and event tickets (25 percent) were among the top products that smartphone shoppers bought with their device during Q2 2013.
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