Time Spent Shopping Shifts From PC To Mobile

Time spent visiting retail Web sites on tablets and smartphones has eclipsed that of time spent shopping via the desktop. A combined 51% of time on retail sites took place on devices as of February (37% on smartphones, 14% on tablets) compared to 49% on PCs, according to a new study by mobile ad network Millennial Media and comScore.
The desktop share is down from 84% in 2010. But comScore indicates that while time spent is shifting toward mobile, it’s helping extend the desktop audience by 45% as consumers that start on PCs continue their shopping experience across devices. So there’s a fair amount of overlap among platforms.
Who’s shopping on mobile devices? More than half the U.S. audience is men (52%) and 48% women, with most in the 18 to 44 age range. Nearly half (48%) have an Android smartphone, and 45% own an iPhone. Tablet owners tend to skew more affluent, with more than half with household incomes higher than $75,000, and 47% access retail content.
Much of the discussion around mobile shopping has focused on how people are using devices in stores. The Millennial
/comScore study doesn’t directly address the issue of showrooming, but it does suggest most smartphone owners (55%) have used their handsets while in stores to compare prices, and 52% have made online purchases.
Other common in-store mobile activities include scanning a product barcode (58%),  researching product features (57%), finding a store location (50%), and checking product availability (47%), and finding coupons or deals (44%).
The study also highlighted gender differences in shopping, with women a third more likely to use their phones for social actions like texting a friend or family member about a product. Men, meanwhile, are two-thirds less likely to scan a barcode or compare prices.

“Store locators may be a more effective tactic to use with men, while ads linking to a social network may be more effective with women, and can be targeted accordingly,” noted the study. Price is overall the biggest factor when it comes to making a purchase on a smartphone, with nearly three-quarters (73%) citing it as a key consideration.

Other things influencing a purchase include customer reviews (35%), mobile coupons (33%), expert reviews (24%), store rewards (23%), a company-sponsored social site (19%), and personal recommendations (18%). The report pointed out that mobile coupons and rewards are also price-related tools retailers can use to incentivize buying.

Clothing tops the list of non-digital products that people are buying on smartphones (39%), followed by tickets (24%), physical books (23%), meals for delivery or pick-up (22%) and consumer electronics (21%). Purchases on tablets followed a similar pattern, with clothing the most popular category by a wider margin (54%), followed by books (29%), tickets (24%), daily deals (23%), and consumer electronics (22%).

Retailers haven’t shied away from mobile advertising, ranking as the top-spending industry category on the Millennial network during the fourth quarter of 2012, and the fourth-highest in the first quarter, behind telecom, entertainment and finance.

Retail ad spending in the first quarter was up 10% from a year ago. “From this already large, established base of spending, retail brands have begun to shift their mobile advertising strategies. Retail advertisers are allocating their mobile spend differently, towards more innovative targeting features,” stated the report.

The main goals of mobile campaigns by far are driving foot traffic (37%) and driving site/mobile traffic (34%). Increasing brand awareness was the aim of 14% of ad efforts. National brands account for the largest chunk of retail ad dollars, at 34%, trailed by computers and electronics firms (21%), clothing and luxury brands (19%), online retailers (10%), and home and garden sellers (9%).

The findings were based on comScore’s MobiLens and Tablens U.S. Surveys in March with 32,088 mobile users aged 13 and older, and 6,796 tablet users, respectively. Data also came from comScore’s Mobile Metrix 2.0 service as of March, and Millennial’s first-quarter SMART report.

"Mobile Shopping" photo from Shutterstock.
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