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Product research via smartphones more than doubles: report


Product research conducted via a smartphone is quickly becoming a favorite activity for users, with 73 percent having researched products they were interested in so far this year, up from 34 percent last year.

The new “Mobile Momentum: Spotlight on the Mobile Local Shopper” report from Local Corporation points to the important role that smartphones are playing in the path to purchase and the need for merchants to incorporate mobile into their strategies. Other findings include that 67 percent of smartphone shoppers researched store-based needs more in the past year and one-in-three researched significantly more.

“The research confirms the value of the smartphone as a widely used tool to access a variety of information throughout the decision making process, with 60 percent of shoppers often thinking of using their smartphones when researching local purchases,” said Sherry Thomas-Zon, vice president of local shopping for Local Corporation/Krillion, Irvine, CA.

“For pre-purchase research, over 40 percent of respondents report utilizing their smartphones for both short-term and long-term shopping needs, where a local store purchase may be made within a few hours, weeks or even months,” she said. “It is also interesting to note that one-in-four always use their smartphones, making it their go-to tool.

“This dependency will continue to accelerate in the coming years, fundamentally changing marketing patterns. Convenience will compel shoppers to reach for their phones for a wide range of problem-solving scenarios to ensure that their visits to retail stores are as productive and rewarding as possible.”

Path to purchase
The report explores the evolving role of the smartphone on the path to a local purchase, when consumers are ultimately looking to buy a product at a nearby retail store.

A key takeaway from the findings is that mobile users are incorporating mobile into their local shopping activities in a multitude of ways at various points during the path to purchase.

Smartphone users are engaging with their devices when shopping locally to access product information, check competitive prices and find digital coupons.

Other findings include that 60 percent often think of using their smartphones when researching local purchases while one-in-two shoppers research at least 50 percent of the time via smartphone when intending to make a local purchase.

Additionally, 72 percent research online a lot but often follow-up with a store visit and 67 percent check to see if the store has inventory in a particular product of interest before making a shopping trip.

The report also reveals that 59 percent of smartphone users often buy online and pick up in store to avoid online shipping charges.

A useful tool
The findings suggest that retailers need to adjust their engagement strategies to meet the evolving needs of the connected consumer.

Smartphone users are engaging with their devices to access information that will help them make a purchase decision.

For example, 76 percent of consumers access store information via their smartphones when researching local stores they want to visit while 68 percent think smartphones are great for accessing coupons that can be redeemed at local retail stores.

Users are leveraging their smartphones to engage with retailers in a variety of ways. For example, 67 percent use their smartphone to download retailers’ apps while 65 percent like the ability to browse their emails from retailers and make a purchase directly on their smartphone.

Savvy shoppers
The overall number of shopping activities users are completing on their devices is up significantly compared with a year ago. In terms of activities that shoppers have done at least seven times in the last three months, 59 percent have checked for sales and specials, 58 percent have browsed an online store, 58 percent have looked for competitive pricing at Amazon, 55 percent have looked up store information and 51 percent have checked ratings and reviews.

The online survey of 1,005 smartphone owners who had shopped at least several times per month was conducted with the help of the e-tailing group.

“Consumers are accessing information about local products and stores more than ever before via smartphone, to make more informed purchase decisions,” Ms. Thomas-Zon said.

“We have entered a period where mobility and shopping can happen anywhere at any time, which sets up more demands on marketers to think about the critical content and entry points where an always-informed smartphone shopper may shift from intent to purchase,” she said

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