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Smartphone owners prefer retail mobile Web sites over apps: InsightExpress

If given the choice between visiting a Web site on a mobile phone or downloading an application to shop or browse a retailer, 48 percent of smartphone owners prefer the mobile Web and 38 percent prefer a mobile application.

As a result of consumers equipped with smartphone devices, holiday shoppers will use the technology to get better deals, comparison shop and increase their overall satisfaction with the shopping experience. With smartphone owners comprising 30 percent of the mobile-enabled universe within individuals ages 18-plus, and device ownership increasing each quarter, it is no surprise new behaviors are beginning to emerge.

“Smartphone owners are using their phones while they are in-store to discover deals, compare prices and share their finds with other people by taking pictures of the items,” said Joy Liuzzo, senior director of mobile research at InsightExpress, Stamford, CT.

“This behavior is the tip of the iceberg in terms of what retailers can expect in the coming year,” she said. “Furthermore, we found that when it comes to browsing retailers on their phone, it’s not enough for retailers to have an app or mobile Internet options since consumers are split in their preference.”

Mobile shopping trends
InsightExpress study data revealed that during this holiday season, 29 percent of all smartphone owners intend to use their device to look for a better price, 23 percent will be looking for product reviews, 22 percent will receive sale alerts and 20 percent will search for products at another store.

Shoppers also plan to make use of additional features such as mobile bar code scanning technology (19 percent) and coupons received on their phones (19 percent).

The research also showed that shoppers intend to employ their smartphone cameras, with 34 percent planning to take pictures of products in store and 25 percent planning to send pictures to other people to solicit opinions.

Also, 56 percent of smartphone owners have visited a retail Web site and, of that group, another 56 percent indicate that they were either happy or very happy with the experience.

Give them  a choice
The key lesson for retailers, both during the holiday season and long after the eggnog is gone, is do not make consumers pick.

Retailers need to have both a Web presence and a downloadable application.

“Retailers’ and brands’ mobile strategy needs to capture the full breadth of consumer experience, in-store and in other locations,” Ms. Liuzzo said. “Think about what consumers will want while they are in-store and what they’ll want if they are browsing. 

“Make sure you have an optimized experience for your site, even if you have an application, because consumers are going to use the platform where they are the most comfortable,” she said.

“Think of ways to take advantage of these shopping behaviors after the holidays are over, such as integrating posting photos into your social strategy.”

Final take
Joy Liuzzo talks with the IAB’s Marla Aaron in an interview during the 2010 IAB Mobile Marketplace.