How Are Your Customers Using Their Mobile Devices? -
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How Are Your Customers Using Their Mobile Devices?
happy  woman holding shopping bag and talking on the phone

You know shoppers are using smartphones and tablets to shop for products—but did you know just how pervasive the behavior is becoming? The 2013 Social and Mobile Commerce Consumer Report has some insights into how mobile devices are changing the way your customers shop.

The study reports that more than half (55 percent) of all retail-related time spent online begins on either a smartphone or a tablet, with just 45 percent of retail Internet time originating from a desktop or laptop computer. Smartphones are getting more use than you might expect in this process. As of June (when the study was conducted), Internet use on smartphones accounted for 44 percent of retail time spent online, a substantial increase from 17 percent in 2010.

Between last year and this year, retail as a content category on smartphones grew by 49 percent. While customers are using their smartphones to look for product information or research retail items, they are less likely to actually make a purchase on their phones. Just 21 percent of ecommerce purchases were made on smartphones in the second quarter of this year; 34 percent took place on tablets and 69 percent on desktops/laptops.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that customers are averse to buying on their phones—just that the process is still a bit clunkier than most people would like. In fact, a surprisingly high 37 percent of shoppers have purchased clothing or accessories via smartphone.

That said, mobile devices are still primarily used in the pre-purchase process. More than half (57 percent) of smartphone users say they go to a retailer’s website or mobile app while they’re in the physical store to see if there is any online discount. In addition, 43 percent of smartphone users “showroom” by visiting competitors’ sites to look for a better deal, and one-fourth look online for in-store coupons or discounts.

However, price comparisons aren’t the only use for smartphones in-store. The devices are also used for in-person consultations to get advice about buying. About one-fourth of shoppers use their phones to take pictures of products, while 17 percent text or call their family or friends about a product or send them a photo.

What do these stats mean for your business?

  • If you’d like to encourage mobile commerce, make it as easy as possible to buy from your business using a mobile device. Simplicity sells, especially on smartphones.
  • Don’t fear customers’ in-store use of their smartphones. Use it as a sign that a customer has more questions about a product, and take the opportunity to approach them and offer assistance.
  • Make sure your retail store is listed in location-based search directories such as With so many retail searches starting on mobile devices, it’s important that shoppers be able to find your business online so they can find you in the real world, too.
  • Use SEO to boost your ecommerce site’s visibility. Make sure your site ranks high in search results when shoppers are looking for what you sell; use popular products or categories as keywords to boost visibility. can build a mobile-friendly website to help you capture mobile customers. Find out more about’s Website design services.

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Google+ and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.
Rieva Lesonsky

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