Consumers Give Mobile Sites The Nod Over Apps As M-Commerce Rises

September 28, 2012

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Mobile Phone | Retail & E-Commerce | Youth & Gen X

Asked whether they would prefer to use a mobile website or application when shopping on a mobile device, 61% of survey respondents from the US chose a mobile website, while an even larger share (68%) of UK respondents expressed the same preference, finds Econsultancy [download page] in a September 2012 report. Still, this preference may not translate into actual measured purchase behavior across these options, as only about one-quarter of respondents report having actually made a purchase using a mobile device. Even so, that percentage has doubled among UK respondents and more than doubled among US respondents since last year, consistent with projections from Internet Retailer that mobile commerce sales will double in the US this year.

Results from an eDigitalResearch survey released in May suggest that US smartphone owners prefer shopping via mobile-optimized sites rather than mobile applications. 51% said they had shopped via the former, compared to 45% who had done so via the latter.

Youth More Comfortable With M-Commerce

Econsultancy’s “Multichannel Retail Survey” finds a clear pattern in mobile purchase incidence by age. Among US respondents, 42% of the 18-34 bracket have made a purchase using their mobile device, a figure that drops to 28% among the 35-54 group and 13% among the 55+ group. The differences are even more pronounced among UK respondents: 44% of the 18-34-year-olds have made a mobile purchase, down to 21% of the 35-54-year-olds and 8% of those 55 and older.

The report notes that this pattern is likely due to the smartphone audience skewing younger. Indeed, according to a joint survey by the Online Publishers Association (OPA) and Frank N. Magid Associates, released in August, slightly less than 3 in 5 US smartphone owners are younger than 35.

It is also worth noting that the Econsultancy survey was conducted online, which may result in a different smartphone ownership result than the overall population.

Mobiles Used to Find Locations, Research Prices

Whereas only a small minority of respondents have used their mobiles to actually make a purchase, many more are comfortable using their devices to aid in their purchases. For example, 4 in 10 respondents from the US – and about one-third from the UK – say that they have used their mobile to find a retailer’s nearest store or opening times. Both figures represent an increase from last year.

Meanwhile, half of the US respondents have used their mobile to compare prices and look at product reviews while out shopping, up from just 20% last year. Similarly, the 43% of UK respondents reporting having done so is a marked increase from 19% last year. Predictably, younger respondents are more likely to engage in these activities – including a majority 61% of US respondents aged 18-34.

Other Findings:

  • More than three-quarters of US and UK respondents expect to be able to return at a local store a product bought online.
  • A slight majority of respondents said they had used catalogs at least once in the prior year before making a purchase.

About the Data: The Econsultancy data is based on a TolunaQuick survey of 1,000 consumers in the UK and 1,000 consumers in the US, carried out by Econsultancy in July and August 2012. 62% of respondents are female. 41% are in the 35-54 age bracket, 28% are aged 55+, and 31% are aged 18-34.


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