Smartphone Shopping with Apps? Not So Much

Shopping apps still don’t appear to be main stream in terms of usage.

Retailers regularly tell me that most of their mobile commerce is coming through their mobile websites rather than their app.

A new, wide ranging, nationwide study now confirms that high app shopping activity is not yet happening.

Almost half (45%) of smartphone owners never use shopping apps or use them less than monthly, according to the stat-rich survey by the Apigee Institute.

The study found that a relatively small portion (12%) of smartphone owners use shopping apps daily with a quarter (25%) using them weekly.

However, the market is somewhat split concerning how a smartphone or tablet has changed the way people shop, with 15% saying it has completely changed how they shop and 19% saying it has not changed it at all.

Looking ahead, smartphone owners were asked how much they expect how they shop to change over the next two years, and almost half (48%) said they expect their phone or tablet to either completely (9%) or somewhat (39%) change it.

While many shoppers don’t frequently use shopping apps, a large number of them say they would be more likely to shop at stores that have apps with features they want.

Almost half (46%) said they would be more likely to shop at a store that offers an app with a searchable product catalog, featured sales and a store locator.

The study also shows that in-store shopping by app is being done by a relatively small group. Of those doing it either often or very frequently:

  • 22% -- Use apps to compare prices with online store
  • 22% -- Use apps to research products
  • 21% -- Use apps to compare prices with other physical store
  • 12% -- Use apps to buy products

The other side of the picture is consistent, with those who never or rarely:

  • 69% -- Use apps to buy products
  • 52% -- Use apps to compare prices with online store
  • 47% -- Use apps to compare prices with other physical store
  • 43% -- Use apps to research products

For retail apps, consumers want them to be easy to use and have various features. The study identified what consumers said were the critical features of retail store apps:

  • 65% -- Easily usable interface
  • 49% -- Store-finder feature
  • 44% -- Customer service access
  • 37% -- Ability to buy items through the app for delivery
  • 31% -- Ability to buy items through the app to pick up in store

The Digital Impact survey or 1,000 smartphone owners was conducted in late November with consumers being asked to assess how mobile devices and apps are affecting their everyday behaviors, tasks and attitudes.

Respondents' region, age, income, education and gender distribution reflects the U.S. smartphone market based on the Pew Internet & American Life Project omnibus survey.

While some great shopping apps may have been created, it’s now a waiting game for the masses to catch up.

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4 comments about "Smartphone Shopping with Apps? Not So Much".
  1. David Kovacs from GPShopper , March 14, 2014 at 1:17 p.m.
    Chuck, your headline is misleading in light of the statistics in this article. 12% use shopping apps daily and 25% weekly... That's 37% of smartphone users using shopping shopping apps weekly or more! Additionally, if 46% are customers are more likely to shop retailers with searchable product... isn't that a business case to build an app in and of itself? As retailers get better at building apps with better functionality and differentiation from mobile web these numbers will only increase. In my reading, this article and the facts are proof that retailers SHOULD be investing in mobile apps, not avoiding them.
  2. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin , March 14, 2014 at 2:38 p.m.
    Thanks for your comments, David. There is no argument against shopping apps here, but for perspective, 12% use shopping apps daily while 26% never use them. As additional app context, other apps used more both daily and weekly over shopping apps include apps that deal with news, weather, social communication, gaming and video watching. Hope this helps, at least for added context.
  3. Jeremy Geiger from Retailigence , March 15, 2014 at 3:07 a.m.
    Hi Chuck. There's a great (publicly available) research report by one of the GigaOM analysts about consumer's use of mobile shopping apps here: http://www.retailigence.com/whitepapers/the-digital-shelf.pdf
  4. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin , March 15, 2014 at 3:30 p.m.
    Thanks for sending, Jeremy. I'd be interested to know about on the checking prices stats in the report, the percentage of consumers using price checking apps vs those using mobile websites.