There’s lots of buzz about mobile shopping, and for good reason. Although the vast majority of Internet users still gravitate to desktops when researching and making online purchases, more than half have either researched or purchased on a mobile device (tablet or smartphone) at some point.
That said, mobile shopping still has a long way to go to become mainstream. A survey of U.S. Internet users by ChoiceStream, reported by eMarketer, says 87.3 percent prefer to use their computer for online shopping; only 7.4 percent prefer tablets and 5.3 percent prefer smartphones. In addition, nearly 90 percent prefer to do research on their computer.
The most popular category where consumers research or buy on a mobile device is restaurants (43.4 percent have researched or bought food on a mobile device, compared to 63.3 percent who have done so on a computer). Also popular are travel (36.3 percent have researched or bought on a mobile device, compared to 76.6 percent on a computer) and shoes/apparel (29.8 percent have researched or bought on a mobile device, compared to 62.6 percent on a computer). Even taxis and car services, which might seem to lend themselves to mobile, were researched or bought on mobile by just 9.8 percent compared to 17.7 percent who did so on a computer.
More than four in 10 (43.6 percent) of consumers have never researched or bought anything via mobile, while only 10.5 percent have never researched or bought anything on a computer.
Overall, the most common type of purchase on a mobile device was games and apps (33.8 percent on mobile vs. 35 percent on a computer), followed by music (27.3 percent on mobile vs. 50 percent on a computer) and books or periodicals (25.8 percent on mobile vs. 64.8 percent on a computer). Among non-digital purchases, shoes and apparel were most likely to be bought on a mobile device (18.4 percent) but that pales next to the 62.5 percent who have bought them on a computer.
With mobile shopping still in its infancy, why should you care? As the adoption of smartphones and tablets has shown, it doesn’t take long for a new technology to reach a tipping point. If your business doesn’t enable consumers to make mobile purchases, you could be behind the eight-ball when mobile shopping becomes more widely accepted. Second, a generation of young consumers (today’s kids and teens) is growing up with their smartphones as extensions of themselves. They’re used to buying apps, games and music on their phone instantly, so as they get older and have their own credit cards, they’ll expect the same convenience whether they’re ordering a pizza, buying a new pair of jeans or furnishing their first home. Will your business be ready?
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