How consumers shop on mobiles

Consumer behaviour on mobiles varies widely in different situations, so marketers must understand how to shape the shopping experience to maximise the chance of a sale.

The ways consumers use mobile phones to shop for goods and interact with brands are heavily influenced by where they are and the immediacy of their needs. Marketers must understand these different kinds of behaviour if they are to boost their chances of converting a sale.

Smartphones are used more frequently at home than on the move, with 64% of mobile use happening in people’s houses compared to 36% out and about, according to new research from xAd.

“Consumers are becoming used to the quick, easy, and relevant access to [content] that smartphones provide. So, even if they have a computer nearby, it is often more convenient to look up purchase details on a smartphone that provide fast results tailored to their exact location,” says Sarah Ohle, senior director of global research at marketing technology firm xAd.

Mobile is also now consumers’ preferred choice of device for researching products, overtaking laptops for the first time. Ahead of making a purchase, more than half (53%) of consumers say their mobile is the most important device for research, up from 25% two years ago. Reliance on computers has fallen in line with this, with 73% of consumers citing their desktop as critical to decision making in 2013 compared to 36% today.

The research indicates that when searching on mobile at home consumers are more likely to be at the beginning of their purchase journey, and still open to exploring.

“Consumers shopping from home are looking to do their research and go into a store equipped with knowledge, ready to make a purchase. Mobile ads aiming to reach consumers at home should be focused on raising brand awareness and providing as many relevant product details as possible for this information-gathering stage,” Ohle advises.

Consumer intent also differs depending on the location of the user and this can be a strong indicator of consumers’ mind-set on the path to purchase.

A third of consumers just browse when at home, with 33% looking to make a purchase a week or more ahead. When on the move, however, one in five are looking for a specific web address and 42% plan to make a purchase within the hour. The number of people looking to make an immediate purchase has grown 56% compared to 2014, which shows a shift in behaviour.

“In general consumers are looking to do different things with their mobile devices depending on where they are,” says Ohle.

“While at home, consumers have more time to browse and really consider their purchase. Therefore they are doing more general research, making plans and comparing product options. While on the go, they are turning to their devices for quick answers and information, including businesses to purchase from. While they may still be doing research when out and about, including visiting businesses to consider products, their mobile activities imply a greater intent to purchase as they are generally closer to actually completing a transaction.”

Physical stores are again becoming an important part of the research journey, as 51% of consumers visited a bricks-and-mortar retailer as part of the process, up from 36% in 2014. The number of consumers completing their purchase in store is also increasing, up 13% to 36% in 2015.

While retailers fear that consumers are increasingly ‘showrooming’ – researching in-store before buying online – the research finds that 56% of people actually complete the purchase at the store, compared to 21% who do so on a mobile device and 19% who choose a PC.

Consumers are also making up their mind more quickly for big-ticket items. The research finds that 21% of people researching cars on their mobile are looking to make a purchase within the hour. Almost two fifths (38%) plan to do so within a week and 15% within a month.

It is natural therefore that the more immediate the need, the closer consumers expect a business to be located to them when purchasing offline. Two-thirds (66%) of consumers wanting to make a purchase within the hour expect the business to be within five miles.

Younger consumers also expect to travel less to complete their purchase with 63% of under 35s expecting the location to be within five miles, compared to 49% of 35- to 54-year-olds. Nearly half (45%) of people aged over 55 don’t have any expectation of distance.

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