Tablets, Smartphones Gaining Retail Dominance

A new study reports that consumers are using their tablets and smartphones as shopping tools at an even greater rate than many had predicted, with 55% of all retail-related Internet time starting on either smartphones or tablets. And just 45% originated from desktop devices.

The study -- a joint effort of Shop.org, the National Retail Federation’s online arm, comScore, and The Partnering Group -- says that second-quarter m-commerce spending reached $4.7 billion, or almost 9% of total U.S. e-commerce dollars.

In June, smartphone Internet usage accounted for 44% of retail Internet minutes, up from 17% percent in June of 2010. Internet usage on tablet Internet represented 11% of total minutes on retail sites. Overall, m-commerce grew by 24% compared to the second quarter of last year, compared with a 16% growth of overall ecommerce.

And from June 2012 to June of this year, the study found that retail grew 49% as a content category on smartphones, ranking fourth. (Beauty and fashion, home and lifestyle, and instant messaging services all grew faster.)  

Still, consumers are less likely to actually purchase products through mobile devices. In the second quarter, 69% of purchases were made on desktops, compared to 34% from tablets and 21% from smartphones.

Clothing and accessories (37%) and event tickets (25%) are among the most frequently purchased products via smartphones.

Bargain-hunting continues to be the primary motivation for mobile devices. The report says 57% of smartphone users visited the same company’s site or app while in the store, with 59% of those shoppers doing so expressly to see if there was an online discount. And 43% of all smartphone users also went to different store sites, and 92% of those shoppers did so in hopes of finding a better deal.

But smartphone owners also used their devices to snap photos of products (23%), text or call family or friends about a product (17%), or send an image to family and friends (17%). About 35% used smartphones to find a store, while 24% searched for coupons and deals, and 19% checked product availability.

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