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16pc of consumers plan to purchase gifts on a mobile phone: Google

Four out of five mobile and tablet owners will use their devices in their shopping activities for the upcoming holiday season, according to a new report from Google.

The Pre-Holiday 2012 Consumer Intentions report from Google and Ipsos OPTX found that among those who use a smartphone or tablet regularly, 16 percent plan to make a purchase on a mobile phone and 10 percent on a tablet. Additionally, 45 percent of smartphone owners plan to compare prices, 44 percent to find a nearby store location, 39 percent to look for coupons and 34 percent to read reviews.

“I think [mobile’s impact on holiday shopping] will be much bigger than last year, in part because we’re starting from small numbers, but also because more retailers have either introduced or revamped their mobile offering, and retailers are starting to get more sophisticated about using mobile as part of the shopping experience – in store as well as out and about,” said Nikki Baird, managing partner at RSR Research, Miami, FL.

Ms. Baird is not affiliated with Google and spoke based on her experience in mobile.

Multi-device shoppers
While tablets owners are smaller base, the results suggest tablet owners use their devices more regularly for shopping related activities, with 56 percent planning to use their tablet to compare prices during the holidays, 48 percent to read reviews, 46 percent to read product information and 45 percent to purchase an item.

The results also point to the growing practice of using multiple computing devices for shopping, with 85 percent planning to start shopping for a gift on one device and finishing on another. For example, 45 percent will pick up from a saved bookmark or shopping cart on another device, 45 percent will send an email or link to themselves and 34 percent will directly navigate to the same destination.

Four out of five respondents even plan to use devices simultaneously while shopping, with 55 percent using a smartphone with a computer, 20 percent a tablet with a computer, 8 percent a tablet, computer and smartphone together and 6 percent a tablet with a smartphone.

The results also show that tablets and ereaders will be popular gift item this year, with 38 percent of consumers who plan to shop for electronics having their sights on tablet, up from 29 percent last year. Additionally, 30 percent will be looking at ereaders, up from 26 percent last year.

Internet is influential
There are several trends pinpointed in the report, such as the growing importance of the Internet for holiday shoppers, with 53 percent planning to research holiday purchases online more this year than in 2011.

Additionally, 37 percent say search is their go-to source for gift ideas.

The biggest days for holiday shopping searches on mobile devices last year were Thanksgiving, Black Friday, the day after Christmas, and the weekends in December.

The report also found that 80 percent of consumers find the Internet to be the most useful source of information for holiday shopping, up from 77 percent last year. More consumers named the Internet as the most useful source than any other source.

Respondents also said the Internet will influence their shopping decisions, with 36 percent saying it will influence the type of gifts they buy, 38 percent the retailers they shop and 37 percent the brands they buy.

Consumers will use a variety of online destinations, including 56 percent who will use store sites, 49 percent search engines, 49 percent online-only retailer sites, 30 percent brand or manufacturer sites and 28 percent shopping comparison sites.

An early start
Other key findings include that 54 percent of consumers will start holiday shopping before Black Friday. However, 31 percent plan to do the majority of their holiday shopping in early to mid December.

The survey also found that consumers plan to spend $900 on holiday shopping this season vs. $854 last year. The leading categories will be apparel, which 83 percent of respondents plan to shop; toys, with 64 percent; electronics, 57 percent; watches and jewelry, 56 percent; cosmetics and beauty, 49 percent and sporting goods, 35 percent.

Additionally, 46 percent of respondents plan to spend more time shopping around for gifts this year because of the economy.  

There are many steps retailers can be taking to address the growth in mobile shopping this holiday season.

“Advertise your mobile offerings in stores, and not just on the front door but at the shelf, and ideally in a way that demonstrates usefulness to the consumer,” Ms. Baird said.

“So, for example, not a sign that says ‘Check out our mobile site!’ but one that says ‘Can’t find it in your size? Our mobile app will help – download it now!,’” she said. “Make sure you have a mobile-friendly Web site, and if you have an app include a promotion strategy to help move shoppers from web to app so that you can offer more personalization.

“Pick two or three use cases for mobile and make sure you have those shopping processes covered end to end – for example, out of stock in the store using mobile as an endless aisle, or add items to a wish list that the shopper can later purchase.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York