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Majority of smartphone users have bought physical goods via mobile: Adobe

A majority of the respondents to an Adobe survey – 62 percent – said that they have bought physical goods from their smartphone devices in the last six months.

The greatest number of respondents – 45 percent – spent $249 or less over the last 12 months. By comparison, the average annual online spend per shopper in 2010 is estimated at $1,139, per Adobe. Of those who have purchased from their mobile devices, a majority report spending more than an hour a week mobile shopping, on both mobile Web sites and downloadable applications.

Mobile Commerce Daily’s Dan Butcher interviewed Sheila Dahlgren, senior director of product marketing, Adobe Scene7, San Francisco. Here is what she had to say:

What are the key takeaways from the Adobe Scene7 survey?
Compared to their peers, iPhone users, men and consumers ages 30-49 makes purchases more frequently, buy goods in more categories and generally spend more time shopping via mobile devices than their peers.

However, we expect women and younger age segments will become more mainstream mobile shoppers as the experiences get better.

When it comes to dollars spent, proportionally more iPhone users – 66 percent – report spending $250 or more on mobile purchases in the last 12 months compared to their peers, followed by BlackBerry users at 58 percent.

The most purchased consumer goods category is shrink-wrapped entertainment, including movies, music and games, purchased by 43 percent of the respondents, followed by clothing, shoes and jewelry, purchased by 30 percent of the respondents.

Following closely behind are electronics and books, magazines and newspapers, purchased by 28 percent and 26 percent of the respondents, respectively.

The majority – two-thirds – of respondents favor using browsers over downloadable mobile apps for accessing product and other shopping content.

Shopping and browsing features rated most important by a majority of mobile shoppers are easy checkout – 57 percent – and product and pricing information at 53 percent.

Visual information, such as full-screen product view, ranks as the next most important feature at 42 percent, followed closely by simple keyword search at 40 percent.

Full-screen image zoom with “next/previous” touchscreen buttons to navigate left and right was tied with full-screen horizontal scrolling with dragging or flicking images left and right as the most preferred ways to browse multiple products.

Both of these viewing experiences were selected by nearly half of the respondents.

Video is one area that was rated by more men than women – 38 percent versus 28 percent – as an influence on their likelihood of purchase.

Women also place a greater premium on visual features including color-swatching, mix-and-match and alternative images – such as on-model, lifestyle images – than men.

The top visual merchandising tools: 360-degree spin – 54 percent – side-by-side product comparisons – 49 percent – and interactive zoom/pan – 44 percent – were ranked ahead of simple keyword search and customer reviews.

What is the most surprising finding?
There were a few surprising findings, but the most surprising was that despite the reputation downloadable mobile apps have for delivering superior user experiences, they did not have higher satisfaction scores over mobile browsers, suggesting that consumers like the convenience of simply typing their queries and destinations right into the browser, compared to frequently searching for applications, then downloading them from an app store.

Also, this indicates that users are transferring their desktop behavior to the mobile browsing and search environment, which for many devices mirrors the familiar desktop experience.

Moreover, most consumers have a limited appetite for the number of applications they are willing to download and maintain on their devices.

What advice can you give to brands/marketers, publishers/media and retailers/merchants based on the findings?
Retailers and merchants: Mobile shopping and commerce is a reality, so invest in mobile and be ready for your shoppers.

As mobile becomes an important purchase channel, online retailers—including those selling high-ticket, discretionary goods—should consider integrating online commerce into their mobility roadmap.

Thanks to their ability to deliver desktop-like experiences that are rich in content and functionality, browser-enabled smartphones are spurring major shifts in shopping behavior.

As mobile and desktop experiences converge, it is not a big leap for consumers to purchase goods through rich Web sites and apps accessed from their mobile devices.

Our study validates the growing adoption of mobile commerce: That easy checkout was singled out as the most important mobile shopping feature suggests that consumers expect to be purchasing products on the go.

Moreover, they are not averse to purchasing products in high-touch categories such as clothing, shoes, electronics and toys.

Mobile is fragmented: To maximize reach, invest in a mobile-optimized Web experience.

The proliferation of mobile devices and operating systems has made for a highly fragmented industry, challenging retailers who seek scale and reach using rich delivery channels. The mobile Web can mitigate some of these challenges, especially as growing numbers of users adopt browser-enabled smartphones.

For most retailers, mobile-optimized Web sites will make the most sense, not least because users tell us they prefer browsers over downloadable apps for interacting with shopping-related content.

Brands, marketers, publishers and media: Where possible, businesses should utilize existing investments, tools, technologies and applicable know-how from their desktop delivery approaches to develop mobile-optimized experiences.

As consumers treat their smartphones like minicomputers, marketers need to deliver rich and relevant experiences to engage them, applying best practices from their desktop delivery arsenal where it makes sense.

With the greatest number of respondents naming 360-degree product spin as the visual feature most likely to influence purchase, it is a sign that consumers are transferring their desktop expectations and preferences to mobile.

Quite simply, users want ample visual information regardless of the medium, and just as is true for the desktop, bigger is also better in mobile.

For instance, the common denominator between the two most preferred experiences for browsing multiple products is full-screen views.

Regardless of whether the product images appear in an app or mobile Web site, mobile-optimized, full-screen displays and zoom are de rigeur.

These tactics play well into the trend towards ever-larger form factors, including bigger displays.

Brands need to offer swift, streamlined, yet rich experiences.

With mobile users having different needs than desktop users, the key is to make it easy for shoppers on the go to interact with your brand and products, while being mindful of load times and bandwidth issues.

This means minimal navigation and clean graphical interfaces free of clutter and optimized for touch-screen interactions with larger buttons and text.

So, calling up a zoom view, for example, should not involve a lot of pinching and gesturing.

Instead, a simple tap on a button should produce an optimized, full-screen view or close-up details of the product.

One approach shared by many mass merchants is a focus on efficient search and browsing.

Their mobile home page reflects a minimalist sensibility that invites deeper browsing and exploration. Only when shoppers drill down on categories or products does detailed information appear.

Most important to note though, from my point of view, is that is that mobile is a channel in flux and optimizing the mobile commerce experience is still untapped, whether in a mobile-optimized site or via an application.

Online retailers and marketers have the opportunity to keep ahead of their shoppers’ demands by incorporating PC learnings from the past 10 years with continuous measuring and testing in this new, but increasingly growing channel.

Additionally, with the recent rapid adoption and success of Android devices, the race is on with regards to top device users among commerce buyers, thus further reason why continuous monitoring, of consumer mobile behavior, satisfaction levels and expectations is critical.

How is mobile changing the face of shopping in the U.S.?
For retailers, mobile can be a highly personal and influential customer touch point.

Its unparalleled immediacy means that consumers can turn to their devices to realize a need or desire as the impulse strikes them, whether it is hitting up the nearest store upon receiving a coupon, or looking up user reviews to validate a decision to purchase.

It is therefore important to think of mobile not strictly as a purchase channel, but as a touch point for engaging shoppers, driving them to action and serving them when they are ready to buy.
Mobile shopping is still in its early days and will continue to evolve with the technology and user expectations.

Forecasters are predicting a continuing fast uptake in smartphone adoption, buttressed by projections by The Nielsen Co. that one in two Americans will own a smartphone by the end of 2011.

Against this backdrop, we expect women, in particular, to catch up—and even outpace—men in their adoption of mobile shopping and commerce, mirroring their trajectory on the PC Internet, where they now account for proportionally more ecommerce dollars than men.

Meanwhile, the user experience will also continue to improve as fierce competition in the mobile ecosystem among device makers, service providers and other players will inevitably lead to greater innovations.

Retailers should stay abreast of the advances in this space while diligently monitoring mobile behavior, satisfaction and expectations in order to continuously fine-tune their tactics and strategies.

Today, consumer expectations generally lag the technology, which in turn represents an opportunity for retailers to trial and learn.

Our study provides one proof point that mobile’s smaller form factors are not deterring consumers from interacting with shopping content, and in fact, they appear to be quite satisfied with their overall experience.

This provides a solid footing from which retailers can further improve and deliver on richer and engaging mobile shopping experiences.

Final Take
Dan Butcher, associate eidtor, Mobile Commerce Daily