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66pc of smartphone users favor mobile Web over apps: study

In the “2012 State of Mobile Experiences and Functionality” report, Siteworx looked at how at the mobile and tablet experiences from retailers this past holiday season and how they stacked up against consumers’ expectations. The report points to the need for retailers to differentiate the tablet and mobile experience so that the two devices complement each other for shopping.

“As more and more people are using smartphones and tablets logically, more and more people are making purchases with them,” said Bennett Lauber, principal designer at Siteworx, Reston, VA.

“In order to maximize the ROI on mobile development efforts, marketers need to understand how, where and why people are using these devices, and then design their mobile app, mobile Web site or responsive Web site to match this understanding,” he said.

“Given the reluctance of consumers to download a mobile app, as evidenced by our data, a responsive or mobile site should is a must-have for customer acquisition. After establishing a relationship with the brand, current customers will be more apt to download an app.”

Shop on mobile
The Siteworx survey looked at responses from Dec. 28 – 31.

The survey was conducted through Google Consumer Surveys and includes 5,500 responses.

Thirty-four percent of consumers surveyed in the study said that they preferred to shop with a mobile app during the holidays compared to a mobile site.

With a flood of holiday-related traffic, it is critical that retailers have a mobile Web presence, especially for consumers who might not be familiar with a brand.

Although mobile is increasingly chipping into digital sales, Web sales continue to dominate.

Online sales made up 28.4 percent of responses when consumers were asked, “How did you purchase holiday gifts this holiday season?” Approximately two percent of consumers said that they shopped via a smartphone or tablet, respectively.

More than 30 percent of consumers said that they shopped via bricks-and-mortar stores this year.

Therefore it is critical that marketers integrate mobile as more than a selling tool. For example, linking a static ad with a QR code gives users access to information that they would not otherwise have access to quickly.

There are also differences between how consumers shop with a smartphone and tablet.

When looking at tablet owners specifically, 18.6 percent said that they purchased an item over their device during prime holiday shopping days. About 20 percent used their tablet owners used their devices to find store hours and locations.

However, 57.3 percent of tablet owners did not use their devices for shopping, price comparison, finding store products or contact information during the holidays.

Roughly 13 percent of smartphone users shopped via their devices during the same time period. More than 33 percent of smartphone owners used their devices to find store hours, locations or directions. Seventeen percent of users compared prices and 19.4 percent used their devices to read product reviews.

Again, 54.3 percent of smartphone owners did not use their devices for any of the shopping-related activities suggested.

When it comes to what tablet users are looking for in a shopping experience, easily being able to find products, a simple check-out process, access to billing information and the ability to share products were all rated as important factors.

The research points to Wi-Fi and casual browsing experiences as factors behind the higher tablet shopping numbers. Tablets tend to be used at home under a secure Wi-Fi connection, which might help consumers feel more comfortable sharing their payment information.

To trigger more smartphone-based payments, retailers should clearly include information about security on their mobile sites and applications. Additionally, simplifying the amount of information that consumers enter on a smartphone is critical with a smaller-sized screen.

Acquiring mobile users
Retailers consistently use their mobile Web sites to promote apps, which have higher loyalty tied to them. Per the study, consumers were most swayed by offers, loyalty and speed as reasons to download an app, showing how it is critical that marketers differentiate the mobile Web and app shopping experience.

For example, 18.8 percent of consumers said that special offers would encourage them to download a mobile app, and 10.7 percent said that a faster speed would persuade them to do the same.

Approximately 18 percent of consumers surveyed said that a streamlined shopping experience, loyalty benefits, faster speed and special offers would push them to download an app.

More than 52 percent of the consumers surveyed said that none of the factors would persuade them to download an app.

“As more people obtain smartphones and tablets, and as more retailers adopt a mobile strategy, making purchases on a phone will eventually become more main stream,” Mr. Lauber said.

“Additionally, we expect to see a proliferation of mobile devices and form factors like the iPad mini and other 7-inch tablets and as a result, responsive design will become mainstream to accommodate the various screen sizes and pixel densities,” he said.

“We expect to see a number of mobile payment systems become more prevalent as well.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York