New York—As smartphone and other handheld devices are adapted by the masses, there’s one function in particular that these gadgets may be used for: shopping.
According to eMarketer, retail is the fastest growing mobile category with nearly a third of users using their phone to check out retail websites.
“Mobile content tied to services like travel, dining and movies—more established mobile categories—is still on an uptick, but online retail experienced the largest increase vs. 2010, with 95% growth in the number of subscribers accessing this content year-over-year in September 2011,” says eMarketer.
By the numbers, out of some 21.2 million mobile users, 17% accessed mobile retail sites almost daily, 28% checked out retail sites at least once a week and 55% reported one to three times a month, eMarketer reports.
In its survey, comScore found that most mobile users, 33%, used their mobile devices to find a store location. Another 23% used the phone to compare prices and 20% looked for coupons or deals.
Among those surveyed by comScore, the leading mobile retail activity was finding a store location, performed by 33%. Twenty-one percent compared product prices and 20% looked for coupons or deals. Smartphone users in a Hipcricket survey followed a similar pattern, but with higher involvement, eMarketer reports. “Nearly half had researched prices on a retailer’s mobile site and more than a third had looked for coupons and promotions.”
In its report on this year’s Black Friday shopping, the National Retail Federation (NRF) surveyed shoppers to see how many planned to use their smartphone or tablet computers over the holiday season kickoff. “More than one-quarter, 25.7%, of Americans with tablet devices said they did or will purchase items with their devices, and 37.4% will or have researched products and compared prices with their tablets,” the NRF reports. “Overall, more than half (57.1%) said they have or will use their tablet devices to shop for gifts over the Black Friday weekend.”
EMarketer advises retailers to be prepared to not only offer mobile shoppers what they seek, but offer information via mobile websites and apps. While comScore’s survey found that 48% of smart phone users preferred to access retail websites via their browser, another 26% preferred apps “with iPhone users being the most likely to use apps.” Among iPhone users 40% preferred using their browsers nearly equal to the 36% who preferred apps.
“To reach the broadest shopping base, retailers would be wise to offer both modes of access,” eMarketer concludes.