Study Highlights Importance of Mobile in Retail

Sterling Commerce, an IBM company, has released the findings of a retail study examining consumer preferences and attitudes towards mobile shopping. The study found that consumers use mobile devices to make their cross-channel shopping journey more convenient, with 17 per cent of respondents claiming to place orders by phone.

The independent survey of 1,000 UK consumers reveals that 87 per cent “expect a seamless and consistent shopping experience across brands and channels”. However, the study also revealed that consumers use their mobile device beyond the point of transaction or purchase, viewing it as a tool to support their entire shopping experience.

53 per cent rate the ability to use their mobile phone while shopping to verify product availability at a particular store location as “important to very important”. 19 per cent of shoppers use their phone in-store to competitively price-shop an item.19 per cent currently use their phones to create shopping lists or baskets.Almost two thirds (64 per cent) of respondents said they were interested in the idea of using their mobile phone to scan and buy items, enabling them to bypass checkout lines. And 23 per cent believe that the ability to receive specials and promotions (such as coupons) on their mobile phone when shopping would be a distinctive plus,. However, 66 per cent are not comfortable with receiving advertising and promotions via their phones.

“Retailers must recognise that mobile has an important place to play in their cross-channel strategy,” says David Hogg, retail/CPG executive for Sterling Commerce. “The added convenience mobile provides to shoppers makes it a vital channel. But beyond sales, retailers need to understand that mobile is a tool to grow loyalty, provide assistance to shoppers and, when used right, enables targeted marketing based on consumer shopping habits.”

Consumers appear set to use mobile devices for locating products in nearby stores, comparing price, browsing, payments, receiving goods, and promotions. However, 71 per cent of consumers still do not feel comfortable making purchases on their mobile. The top three inhibitors cited are:

  • 41 per cent feel the screen is too small.
  • 37 per cent believe it is difficult to fully visualise what the product looks like.
  • 30 per cent don’t think it is a secure medium.

“Many consumers find usability to be a challenge while shopping on a mobile device,” says Hogg, “Due to the nature of the device, and small screen, retailers are required to adapt their content. It is not enough to rely on a mini-version of an existing e-commerce website. Nearly 70 per cent of buyers interviewed said they would be most likely to download and use a marketplace application that allowed them to shop across multiple retailer sites, rather than toggling between retail branded applications.”

The survey was carried out online by SmartRevenue in June/July 2010 and surveyed 1,000 male and female consumers, aged 18 and older, living in the UK.