The Future of Mobile Shopping

4 minute read
Dan Berthiaume avatar

Mobile shopping appears to have a bright future, according to a new study from global research consulting firm Latitude. Sixty-three percent of survey respondents -- who were all mobile phone users in the US and UK with at least some exposure to mobile shopping -- expect to do more shopping on their mobile device in the next couple of years, and that’s just the beginning.

Shopping Anywhere, Anytime

Survey results from the report, "Next-Gen Retail: Mobile and Beyond" reveal that mobile devices enable shopping to happen anywhere, at any time. For example, Latitude says that 77% of smartphone owners shop at home, as do 62% of dual smartphone/tablet owners using a smartphone and 87% of dual owners using a tablet. Dual owners using a smartphone are also likely to shop while commuting/traveling (68%), in stores (65%) and at work (57%), while dual owners using tablets are especially likely to shop while watching TV (77%).

As a result of this freedom, two in five respondents said they have more “me” time or feel more relaxed due to the ability to perform mobile shopping. Other positive feelings commonly generated by mobile shopping include feeling more money-smart (68%), efficient (67%), informed (54%) and exploratory (53%).

Location, Location, Location

The survey also indicates that mobile location-based services help prompt mobile shopping behavior. After receiving a location-based message from a retailer, more than half (52%) of respondents visit the retailer website, 50% visit the store soon and one in five (20%) make a purchase and the same percentage visits the store that day.

Mobile Devices, Stores Converge

Sixty percent of respondents have used a mobile device to shop while in a store. Thirty-three percent have used a tablet, and another 44% have not used a tablet in a store but may be interested.

Looking at what shoppers do with their mobile devices in stores, the study finds that 95% self-scan items for checkout, 94% compare products, 92% tap “smart” posters for coupons, 87% locate products with store maps, 86% obtain alerts when certain items are available, 82% view similar products bought by others, 79% receive a list of a store’s most popular items, watch demo videos and virtually try on clothing and 72% check if colors match.

Considering the popularity of many informational activities performed via mobile device in stores, Latitude advises retailers to offer information and advice to mobile shoppers in addition to transactional mobile commerce services. However, as detailed below, the study also paints a bright picture for m-commerce.

Mobile Transactions Come of Age

Slightly more than half (51%) of respondents are very comfortable making mobile purchases and another 39% are somewhat comfortable, meaning nine out of ten have some comfort level with m-commerce. Smartphone owners, tablet owners and dual owners have different buying patterns, with dual owners most likely to say they purchase more goods online than in physical stores (37%). While 58% of dual owners use a desktop or laptop PC, 47% use a smartphone and 42% use a tablet.

Learning Opportunities

Age also plays a significant role, as 52% of all 20-29 year-olds cite smartphones as a favorite purchasing platform -- significantly more than the 37% of 40-59-year-olds who prefer to purchase via smartphone.

Looking at mobile transaction popularity by type of shopping app, 61% of respondents have downloaded a mass online retailers shopping app, well ahead of other shopping apps such as barcode scanners and coupon/deal services (48% each), peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplaces (42%) and specific store brands (38%).

Most Important Features – Today and Tomorrow

The most important current mobile shopping features include comparison shopping (35%), access to coupons (36%), customer reviews (31%), ability to complete a purchase (28%) and shipment tracking (26%). Respondents were more unified in rating the features they want to have in the future, including virtual loyalty cards (96%), sale notifications (92%), one-click purchases (90%), aggregated sale alerts from favorite brands (88%) and the ability to repeat past purchases (82%).


Looking ahead, Latitude advises mobile marketers to create “serendipity” in the mobile shopping experience by alerting consumers of preferred items available nearby, as well as by tracking consumer preferences to buy certain products at particular times of day or in certain weather conditions and then sending targeted mobile promotions. Mobile retailers and developers are recommended to better approximate the physical retail experience with features like virtually trying on clothing (this does NOT mean duplicating the store or online experience exactly), and online retailers are urged to cross screens with innovative features like the ability to use a mobile device to buy the outfit a character on a TV show is wearing.

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