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Mobile commerce now makes up more than one-fifth of e-commerce spending in the US, and that figure should continue to climb, as new data from UPS finds growing comfort with using smartphones for a variety of shopping needs including making purchases.

The survey – fielded in early 2017 among more than 5,000 people who had made a least 2 online purchases in a 3-month period – found almost half (48%) of smartphone users having made a purchase on their phones.

Moreover, respondents estimated having made about one-sixth (17%) of their online purchases on smartphones. Notably, those shoppers who use retailers’ apps estimated making one-quarter of their purchases on a smartphone.

That suggests that app usage is linked to increased shopping activity on smartphones. Those use retailers’ apps noted that they do primarily because it’s faster and a better user experience. For those 1 in 5 who don’t use apps, the chief hindrances are a preference for the website and concerns about security. This has long been one of the key concerns hindering mobile commerce.

Learn About the Most Important Elements of the Overall Mobile Retail Experience

Most Common Mobile Retail Use Cases

Research plays heavily into shoppers’ use of mobile devices throughout the retail experience, per the report.

One of the most popular uses of mobile is to locate stores or store-related information, which three-quarters of shoppers report having done at some point. This is also the fastest-growing use of mobile in retail, up 8% points from last year’s survey.

The use of smartphones for store information brings to mind new search data released by Google. Given that 3 in 4 smartphone owners turn to search first for their immediate needs, Google looked further into how they are searching for information to satisfy that need for immediacy.

As it turns out, search interest in the term “open now” has tripled in the past 2 years, while searches for store hours have dropped during the same time frame. This suggests that they’re using their smartphones in order to make near-term decisions rather than planning for a later store visit.

Returning to the UPS study, other common uses of mobile devices in retail include:

  • Tracking delivery of an order (75%, up 3% points from 2016);
  • Comparing prices among retailers (70%);
  • Searching for a retail coupon (68%); and
  • Researching products prior to visiting a store (68%).

About the Data: The study is based on a survey of almost 5,200 qualified comScore panelists who made at least 2 online purchases in a typical 3-month period.

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