Mobile In-Store Research Appeals to Consumers, Costs Retailers

fedreserve-interest-in-mobile-activites-march2012.jpgAlmost half of mobile phone users would like to use their device to compare prices when shopping, making this the most appealing of a list of mobile commerce activities identified by the Federal Reserve, per its March 2012 report. And while a comparatively small 19.4% of mobile phone users said they had ever used their device to comparison-shop over the internet while at a retail store, 65.6% of those who had used their device to compare prices changed where they made their purchase.

Mobile in-store research appears to be a growing trend, though the extent to which it is actually employed varies somewhat from one survey finding to the next. According to a JiWire February 2012 report, 34% of mobile consumers in Q4 2011 said they had comparison shopped in-store with their mobile device, while data from a Pew Internet & American Life Project report released in January indicates that one-quarter of adult cell phone owners used their devices to look up the price of a product online while they were in a store during the 2011 holiday season.

Meanwhile, according to the Federal Reserve report, after price comparisons, the next-most appealing mobile commerce activities to users are tracking finances on a daily basis (31.1%) and receiving and managing discount offers and coupons (30.5%).

Other Activities Also Influence Purchase Decisions

Mobile phone users appear to be influenced by a range of mobile in-store activities. 16% have used their device to browse product reviews while shopping at a retail store: of those, more than three-quarters admitted that doing so had at some point changed which item they ended up purchasing. And of the two-thirds who used their mobile phone to check their account balance or available credit before making a large purchase, 59.2% said the most recent time they did, they decided not to buy the item because of the amount of money left in their account, or the amount of their available credit.

Retailers can take heart in the finding that of the 37.9% who have signed up to receive coupons or special offers by email from retail stores, almost three-quarters have made a purchase as a result of receiving one of the offers.

Other Findings:

  • 58.4% of respondents overall, who were required to have regular internet access and a bank account, said they generally compare prices online before going to a retail store to make a large purchase.
  • Similarly, 57.6% reported typically looking at product reviews online before visiting a retail store to make a large purchase.
  • 16.4% of mobile phone users said they had ever used their device to make an online purchase.
  • 2.4% of mobile phone users who had made a mobile payment in the past 12 months said that they had waved or tapped their device at the cash register to pay for a purchase.
  • Among those who have made a mobile payment in the past 12 months, the most popular method was through a credit card, debit card, or prepaid card (66.4%), ahead of through a bank account (45.4%), and via a service such as Paypal, Google Wallet, and iTunes (21.9%).

About the Data: The Federal Reserve survey was administered by Knowledge Networks, an online consumer research company, on behalf of the Consumer Research Section in the Federal Reserve Board’s Division of Consumer and Community Affairs. The survey was conducted using a sample of adults ages 18 and over from KnowledgePanel®, a proprietary, probability-based web panel of more than 50,000 individuals from randomly sampled households; the sample was designed to be representative of the US population. After pretesting, the data collection for the survey began on December 22, 2011 and concluded on January 9, 2012. 2,290 respondents completed the survey.