What's Holding Mobile Shopping Back? Let Me Count the Ways

Mobile shopping behavior is evolving.

As I wrote about yesterday (Why People Don’t Use Smartphones to Shop), the top reasons people don’t use their phones to shop are screen size (41%), security issues (39%), don’t have a smartphone (20%), don’t have a data plan (16%) or have a slow connection (13%).

The findings were from a PwC global study with 15,000 respondents in 15 territories.

But based on a number of notes I received, I have to wonder if some of the issues go well beyond that.

For example, demographics may play a role, as one person suggested “small screens, bad eyes and big thumbs” as factors holding him back.

Another aspect we’ve frequently written about is the role of the smartphone in the total shopping experience and not just the transactions, the common measurement metric.

In the Mobile Shopping Life Cycle, consumers no longer go shopping, they always are shopping.

One reader suggested that the smartphone is very good to research and find the best options to buy but terrible to navigate for what you’re looking for. In cases like these, the phone may not be credited with the actual sale though it could have been intimately involved in the purchase process and decision.

As in the PwC study, where having a slow connected was a drawback for 13% of those surveyed, several readers said that is exactly what holds them back.

You likely have been in a store where there was either no Wi-Fi or a poor carrier connection.

This can make checking and comparing prices, which studies consistently show shoppers want to do, a tedious process, at best. In such situations, shoppers may want to use their smartphone as a shopping assistant, but just can’t.

The bigger issue may be the impact on retailers, whether or not they see it.

For example, one reader noted that rather than try to find a sales associate, he uses his code reader, which has notified him that he could save 30% at another store. He then can order from that store while in the first store and pick up the item on the way home. Showrooming at its best.

Part of the reason for non-smartphone shopping also could simply be the learning curve.

Starting on a new smartphone can be bewildering for a person moving from a feature phone, as some of you may have experienced from your very fist smartphone acquisition.

As smartphone users start to do more with their devices, shopping is likely to move much more front and center.

Not necessarily the buy. The shop.

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7 comments about "What's Holding Mobile Shopping Back? Let Me Count the Ways".
  1. Paul Robinson from Viridian Development Corporation , February 28, 2014 at 12:49 p.m.
    If you're making it difficult for people to buy things, they're going to be okay with that, and following your lead they'll go to someone else who cares about the customer, since clearly you've shown that you don't.
  2. Lauri Chertok from Measuringupapp , February 28, 2014 at 1:40 p.m.
    In this day and age, there is no reason why connectivity is so difficult in major department stores. Just trying to connect with a friend in anothe location in that store can be practically impossible.
  3. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin , February 28, 2014 at 5:36 p.m.
    Got that right, Paul. And mobile makes it very easy to see where else to go.
  4. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin , February 28, 2014 at 5:36 p.m.
    Agree, Lauri not not all retailers yet get that.
  5. Retailigence Team from Retailigence , February 28, 2014 at 5:47 p.m.
    Perhaps the question we ought to be asking ourselves is ‘What is mobile’s role in shopping?’ Mobile devices are used most often in the middle of the path to purchase, after web search (online) and before purchase (in store). Thus, it’s important for retailers to reach these mobile-savvy and on-the-go shoppers and bring them in-store. Retailers can level the playing field with ecommerce competitors by giving shoppers information on where they can buy merchandise they’ve researched while on the go, local availability, and best route to the store. They can even make it possible to reserve items online for in-store pickup. We agree there are barriers to actual shopping on mobile. But mobile has its place in the shopper’s journey. Smart retailers know this, and are working to implement solutions to make to easier to shop, from web to mobile to in-store.
  6. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin , February 28, 2014 at 6:13 p.m.
    Well said, team (my regards to Jeremy). The mobile path to purchase is clearly key here, as you well articulated. But as you know, not everyone yet totally get this.
  7. Ron Mulliken from Marchex , March 2, 2014 at 7:30 a.m.
    Small screen sizes, bad eyes & big thumbs may help explain why so many mobile consumers prefer to use click-to-call in their path to purchase- and use for their smartphones for what they really are - phones. BIA/Kelsey reports that this year consumer will place 30 billion (yes, billion) in-bound sales calls to businesses. Next year, the number is expected to top 50 billion. In their study with Ipsos in October 2013, Google reports that 61% of mobile shoppers use click-to-call when ready to make a purchase. Trying to make mobile work as an m-commerce device is important for retail-driven businesses - but a growing number of call-driven marketers are lowering their costs of new customer acquisition by measuring and monetizing phone calls - fueled by growing mobile searches, click-to-call usage and the fact that consumers will convert higher and spend more on phone transactions that web transactions.