Why People Don't Use Smartphones to Shop

There are plenty of reasons consumers use smartphones to shop, ranging from access to product information to finding competitive pricing.

And many shoppers find their own preferred path to purchase and their own reasons why.

For example, as I wrote about earlier this week, consumers use both apps and mobile websites to shop and more find mobile browsers to be more convenient (More Mobile Shoppers Like Convenience of Websites Over Apps).

Almost half (46%) of mobile shoppers say their shopping experience would be better if they could check available stock while in a store and almost a third (31%) want in-store Wi-Fi with a simple login.

But some consumers don’t use any online tools to buy, primarily because they like to shop in a store where they can see and touch their desired products.



Based on a large global study by PwC, of those who did not purchase online, here are the top reasons:

  • 54% -- Prefer to touch/try the product
  • 52% -- Just prefer to shop in store
  • 43% -- Worried about security of personal data
  • 35% -- Don’t trust online payment methods
  • 25% -- Don’t have a credit/debit card

And as no surprise, there are a number of consumers who are not active mobile shoppers.

The PwC study found that a significant number (40%) of shoppers use apps for shopping only a few times a year, at most. More than a third (36%) of mobile browser users are in the same boat.

Twelve percent of consumers never use apps and 8% never use mobile browsers for shopping.

Research also consistently shows that more people make an actual purchase from a tablet than a smartphone, though the latter are heavily used during the research and shopping process.

One of the most obvious reasons is it’s easier to navigate information on a larger screen.

It turns out that among a range of issues, the size of the screen is the top reason consumers don’t use their phone for shopping, according to the PwC study. Of those who don’t use their phone to shop, here’s why:

  • 41% -- Screen too small
  • 39% -- Worried about security
  • 20% -- Don’t own a smartphone
  • 16% -- Don’t have a data plan
  • 13% -- Have a slow connection
Why do you use your phone to shop? Or not?
15 comments about "Why People Don't Use Smartphones to Shop".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Tom Baer from TBI, February 27, 2014 at 1:17 p.m.

    Nice smartphone you chose to picture for this article...feel like I just went back through a time machine!

  2. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, February 27, 2014 at 1:26 p.m.

    Nice catch, Tom. That was a nod to the 20%.

  3. Carissa Ganelli from LightningBuy, February 27, 2014 at 1:44 p.m.

    I'd love to see a study in which one of the choices for why consumers don't purchase from smartphones is "Purchase process too long". Our analysis of the Top 100 Internet retailers shows that of merchants with a mobile site, the average number of clicks to purchase was 5 and the average number of screens the consumer had to wade through was 9. Who wants to suffer through 5 clicks and 9 screens on those small smartphone screens to make a purchase? As the research shows, most consumers don't bother. That's a huge missed opportunity for for driving impulse purchases since consumers won't bother completing the purchase on a desktop or tablet later.

  4. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, February 27, 2014 at 3:08 p.m.

    Yes, Carissa, I would as well. Likely would fit in with the abandonment rate stats. Looks like your report ($500?) is 2013 pre-holiday shopping? Any new insights, please feel free to send along.

  5. Tom Francoeur from Communispace, February 27, 2014 at 3:40 p.m.

    Another great article, Chuck. Mobile shopping trends interest me, but personally, I fall into the "old school" of online shopping via PC/laptop. The only time I use my phone in a shopping context is to search for store locations. Fascinated by the trends, but in practice, I'm still a mobile luddite.

  6. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, February 27, 2014 at 3:48 p.m.

    Thank you, Tom appreciated. And that's OK, we won't tell anyone. Keeps the market balanced.

  7. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, February 28, 2014 at 5:13 a.m.

    @Carissa Me too and I even have the data. One of our interns picked up on the issue of long checkout times last year - quite a lot of online shoppers spend more time in the checkout process than they do actually shopping - but we've not yet had time to process it into a formal report.

  8. Tom Francoeur from Communispace, February 28, 2014 at 10:28 a.m.

    Ha! Thanks, Chuck! :-)

  9. Carissa Ganelli from LightningBuy, February 28, 2014 at 10:42 a.m.

    @Chuck - The detailed summary findings of our report are posted for free where you can find number of clicks, screens, load time, etc. for the Top 100 merchants. We do an annual evaluation of mobile purchase processes commencing when Internet Retailer publishes their Top 500 list so the next one will be published in October. As you can imagine it's a huge undertaking to review and analyze the sites of 100 merchants. We have a team of 5 researchers/analysts/UI experts on the team.

  10. Carissa Ganelli from LightningBuy, February 28, 2014 at 10:43 a.m.

    @Pete - great minds think alike. Your report would be so valuable in terms of educating retailers. Many let the branders own the mobile site when they really need UI and conversion experts to own it if they want to drive sales via mobile.

  11. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, February 28, 2014 at 10:45 a.m.

    Thanks Carissa, appreciate the info and look forward to the next mega-report. Sounds like a rather daunting undertaking. :)

  12. Ned Newhouse from Conde Nast , February 28, 2014 at 12:06 p.m.

    As a marketer and a publisher, this is a great statement about the believability in the greater power of mobile advertising and not relying on click or ad performance data. If >50% would rather see and touch does that mean we are under counting >50% of the benefit?

  13. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, February 28, 2014 at 12:12 p.m.

    Now there in an astute observation, Ned!

  14. Elizabeth Bird from Cor Jesu Acadmey, April 16, 2014 at 2:39 p.m.

    First of all, I am one of the rare ones who does not own a smart phone. In fact I own a dumb phone, no texting, and I never use it. I think the battery died and i never recharged it. I do not shop a lot, but I do buy lots of books -- mostly on-line. i like the lap top because the screen is big. I like to totally know what I am buying -- I like to touch it and I like the adventure of going into a store and actually seeing and experiencing "shoping" as an activity. I am forced to use my lap top for work -- but I do not use social media at all, as it is boring. I am a very kinesthetic person -- "hands on" I do not play games, or text, or anything most people do. I still own a land line. If i want a product, I can do my own comparisons. I am afraid, I will get lazy and dumb if i rely on a stupid little machine to do it for me.

  15. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, April 16, 2014 at 2:43 p.m.

    No worries, Elizabeth, each person has their own preferences. Not everyone will lean on a smartphone for shopping.

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications