Mapping the US Shopper’s Mobile Path to Purchase

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Table of Contents

  1. Top stats from the report
  2. Introduction
  3. The Awareness Stage
  4. The Influence Stage
  5. The Conversion Stage
  6. References

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Top Stats from the Report

  • In 2014, 29% of US consumers said smartphones were the most important shopping tool up from 23% in 2013.
  • 42% of consumers consider a mobile device as the most important resource for a purchase decision just behind laptops and desktops at 43%.
  • 60% of US consumers claim to have used only their smartphones when deciding which restaurant to visit.
  • 40% of US consumers claim to have used only smartphones when deciding on their choice of entertainment.
  • 35% of US consumers say they used only smartphones when deciding on which car to buy.
  • 68% of US consumers conduct pre-purchase research on their smartphones at some point in their purchase journey.
  • Among US consumers who research on their smartphones, 37% make the final purchase in a store followed by 35% who make the final purchase on their smartphones.
  • 67% of US consumers conduct pre-purchase research on their tablets at some point in their purchase journey.
  • Among consumers who use tablets for research, 41% end up making the final purchase on tablets, 33% make the final purchase in store, and 32% use the laptop to make the final purchase.
  • 74% of US consumers conduct pre-purchase research on their laptops at some point in their purchase journey.
  • Among consumers who use laptops for research, 52% make the final purchase on laptops followed by 37% who make the final purchase in store and 21% use their tablets to make the final purchase.
  • 60% of US shoppers conducted research in stores.
  • Among the store researchers, 57% end up buying from the store compared to 29% who buy from their laptops.
  • 53% of US smartphone using shoppers accessed the device when inside their homes in 2014 up from 32% in 2013.
  • 76% of tablet using shoppers accessed the device in their homes in 2014.
  • 49% of entertainment shoppers used their mobile device to browse and see options.
  • 48% of telecom shoppers and 47% of auto shoppers used their mobile device to browse and find options compared to 36% of restaurant shoppers.
  • 58% of US shoppers prefer visiting retailer website for product discovery.
  • 33% of US shoppers preferred to access retailer branded apps.
  • Only 13% of US shoppers prefer to discover products and services through opt-in notifications and alerts.
  • 72% of US consumers use their mobile devices to research electronic products.
  • 57% of shoppers in the clothing category and 46% in the shoes & fashion accessories category use their mobile devices to research products.
  • 46% of US consumers research household items on mobile devices and 45% research appliances to discover possible purchase options.
  • 49% of telecom shoppers conduct in-depth research on mobile devices to narrow down their choices compared to 20% of restaurant goers.
  • 61% of smartphone using shoppers and 50% of tablet using shoppers look up possible locations they can visit near them.
  • 52% of shoppers access smartphones and 44% access tablets to look up directions to local stores.
  • 41% of US shoppers accessed smartphones and 42% accessed tablets to look up reviews and decide on which store to visit.
  • 38% of smartphone using shoppers and 32% of tablet using shoppers called local stores asking for information such as opening and closing times, availability of product, and on-going promotions before deciding to visit.
  • 80% of consumers use mobile devices inside a store to enhance their shopping experience, up from 64% a year ago.
  • The most popular way to use mobile devices while in-store is to comparison shop (59%) followed by searching for coupons (48%) and reviews (47%).
  • Retail stores are the top business venue for consumer mobile usage accounting for 31% of mobile connections followed by restaurants (21%), service-related venues (19%) and financial institutions (15%).
  • 28% of in-store mobile usage happens in clothing stores followed by convenience stores (18%) and specialty stores (12%).
  • 52% of US consumers share retail related posts on social media.
  • 51% of consumers visit social media platforms to post pictures of items they are interested to purchase.
  • Only 18% of consumers visit social media sites to post videos of the products they are considering for purchase.
  • On average, 62% of consumers who used a mobile device during the shopping process made a purchase. An additional 16% deferred purchase for a future date.
  • 49% of smartphone using shoppers and 42% of tablet using shoppers complete their purchase within an hour or less of using their mobile device to start browsing for options.
  • On average 65% of mobile using shoppers make a purchase on the same day they started browsing for possible options on the device.
  • 23% of US shoppers who used their mobile device inside a retail store made a purchase on the device itself up from 12% a year ago.
  • For both smartphones and tablets people are most comfortable spending $100-$249. Smartphones outpace tablets for purchases under $250, while tablets outpace smartphones for purchase over $250.
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The US Consumer's Mobile Path to Purchase

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The Relevance of Brick-&-Mortar Stores in an Omni-Channel World

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Introduction

Mobile is turning out to be a key tool in the US consumer’s shopping process. 42% of US consumers consider a mobile device i.e. smartphone or tablet as the most important resource for a purchase decision.

Mobile is also a big driver behind the consumer’s rapidly evolving omni-channel path to purchase. US shoppers are hopping between mobile and other channels such as TV, peers, social media, store websites, and retail to conduct research, plan their store visits, compare prices inside stores, and even pay for the product or service.

Mobile devices play a significant role during the pre-purchase research when the consumer is discovering possible options. 68% of US consumers conduct pre-purchase research on their smartphones and 67% on their tablets.

Mobile devices can influence consumers to plan their store visit. Consumers use mobile to locate nearby retail venues and get directions. 61% of smartphone using shoppers and 50% of tablet using shoppers look up possible retail locations they can visit nearby. 52% of shoppers access smartphones and 44% access tablets to look up directions to specific local stores.

US shoppers use mobile devices inside retail stores as well. 80% of consumers use mobile devices inside a store to enhance their shopping experience. 59% of mobile using shoppers comparison shop i.e. compared prices, features and other factors before making a purchase decision when inside the store. 47% look for product reviews.

Mobile is no longer a communication tool limited to voice, messaging, and social networking. It is a productivity tool, a camera + photo/video browser, a handheld gaming console, and a virtual shopping assistant among many other things. For retailers, mobile is a great tool that drives a consumer from awareness to conversion. 62% of consumers who used a mobile device during the shopping process made a purchase.

In this report we will look into why retailers and retail marketers need to pay more attention to the role of mobile in the US shopper’s consumer journey and track how shoppers use mobile devices to fulfill their needs and wants from initial research to final purchase.
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Mobile grows in significance among US shoppers

The significance of mobile devices in a US consumer’s path to purchase has grown year-on-year. In 2014, 29% of US consumers said smartphones were the most important shopping tool up from 23% in 2013.

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Consumers no longer view smartphones as just communication and entertainment devices. Advanced features and better connection speeds allow people to look for information whenever and wherever they want.

Mobile devices – smartphones and tablets – are now on par with desktops and laptops as key source of purchase related information for consumers engaged in pre-purchase research.

29% of US consumers consider smartphones as the most important source of information to make a purchase decision and 13% rank tablets as the most important source. Put together, 42% of consumers consider a mobile device as the most important resource for a purchase decision just behind laptops and desktops at 43%.

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Overall, when it comes to different forms of media, consumers give more weight to online sources of information compared to traditional one-way sources such as TV (8%) and print (5%). Consumers feel empowered because they can access information via reviews, blogs posts, price comparison apps, shopping apps, and videos all of which helps them make a better purchase decision.
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Leisure shoppers are most dependent on mobile to make a purchase decision

The role of smartphones and tablets in seeking purchase related information varies across industries. It is most prominent when consumers have to decide on restaurants and choice of entertainment.

60% of US consumers claim to have used only their smartphones when deciding which restaurant to visit. 40% of US consumers claim to have used only smartphones when deciding on their choice of entertainment.

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The use of smartphones for purchase decisions in leisure categories such as restaurants and entertainment is not surprising since a big part of discovering and purchasing products and services in the two categories have been digitized over the last decade. People can find restaurants or food chains and place an order using their mobile. Similarly discovering and buying/renting of music, movies, games and even TV shows is largely driven by online and mobile platforms such as iTunes and Netflix.

Leisure categories are also more socially oriented. When going out to a restaurant or to watch a movie, the consumer’s primary goal is a social one i.e. to have a good time with friends and family. The functional goal i.e. to eat the best possible cuisine or watch the most acclaimed movie is secondary. Functional goals become more important when making purchase decision in durable categories like auto and telecom where consumers purchase decisions involve long-term commitment i.e. they are stuck with the purchase in the foreseeable future.

Consumers are likely to place less importance on mobile compared to visiting retail outlets and talking with trusted peers when it comes to purchasing durables. Still, 35% of US consumers say they used only smartphones when deciding on which car to buy. This could be due to consumers using smartphones to get directions to the nearest dealer or look up auto maintenance service locations in the vicinity. Only 16% of auto shoppers said they used only tablets make a purchase decision. The figure was significantly low for telecoms where only 13% of consumers said they used only their smartphones to make a purchase decision.
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Mobile drives omni-channel path to purchase

Armed with smartphones, tablets and laptops, a consumer’s shopping journey seems more convoluted than ever giving rise to the omni-channel path to purchase.

Shoppers use all three devices as well as visit stores to collect information before making a purchase decision. They could end up buying the product or service at the store or on one of their devices.

68% of US consumers conduct pre-purchase research on their smartphones at some point in their purchase journey. Smartphone research is slightly more likely to lead to in store purchase than purchase via smartphone, tablet or laptop. Among US consumers who research on their smartphones, 37% make the final purchase in a store followed by 35% who make the final purchase on their smartphones.

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Consumers are more likely to be on-the-go when researching on smartphones. A plausible scenario is when they are on their way to the store and look up information using their smartphone for reassurance about the purchase decision after having done most of their research on laptops and tablets at home.

67% of US consumers conduct pre-purchase research on their tablets at some point in their purchase journey. Among consumers who use tablets for research, 41% end up making the final purchase on tablets, 33% make the final purchase in store, and 32% use the laptop to make the final purchase.

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A higher conversion rate for tablet researchers making the final purchase on tablets (41%) compared to smartphone researchers buying on smartphone (35%) shows that tablets are more conducive to online shopping.

There is a case one could make that bigger screens help shoppers complete the purchase because conversion rates among same device researcher & buyer increase as we move from smartphones to tablets to laptops.

74% of US consumers conduct pre-purchase research on their laptops at some point in their purchase journey. Among consumers who use laptops for research, 52% make the final purchase on laptops followed by 37% who make the final purchase in store and 21% use their tablets to make the final purchase.

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When it comes to researching products before purchase, digital has the upper hand over retail stores. Overall, more US consumers conduct research through digital channels (laptops – 74%, smartphones – 68%, and tablets – 67%), than in store (60%). Digital’s advantage over retail stores is not only due to its convenience factor but also its social factor. People can read reviews from other buyers or even their peers. They can also ask their friends for advice and/or approval before making a purchase decision.

Despite the growth of digital in pre-shopping research, retail visits are still relevant. 60% of US shoppers conducted research in stores. Much like shoppers who research on tablets and laptops, retailer researchers prefer to stick to the same channel to complete their purchase. Among the store researchers, 57% end up buying from the store compared to 29% who buy from their laptops. Only 19% buy from their smartphones and 18% from their tablets.

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To summarize, firstly, apart from instances where smartphones are involved in the research process, US shoppers mostly prefer to purchase on the same medium as the one they are conducting research on. Secondly, online research can drive in-store purchases. Regardless of how consumers choose to research online – via smartphones, tablets or laptops – a third of consumers in each device group chose to purchase in-store i.e they engage in webrooming. Finally, among US shoppers who conduct research in store at some point in their purchase journey, 43% end up buying online i.e. they engage in showrooming.

US shoppers are hopping across devices and stores, turning mobile from a communication device to a shopping companion in their omni-channel path to purchase.

In this report we trace the US consumer’s mobile path to purchase as they use smartphones and tablets across three stages:
1. The Awareness Stage where consumers conduct pre-purchase research
2. The Influence Stage where consumers make a purchase decision
3. The Conversion Stage where consumers buy the product or service

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The US Consumer's Mobile Path to Purchase

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The Relevance of Brick-&-Mortar Stores in an Omni-Channel World

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The Awareness Stage

In the awareness stage consumers conduct generic research of the category to discover all possible options available in the market. Their goal is to discover all possible options in an effort to lower the risk of an incorrect purchase decision. Consumers don’t want to end up with a product or service their peers would reject or is prone to frequent issues in the future.

In this section we will look into how and where consumers use mobile at the start of their journey to discover possible options, what mobile based tools do they use mobile to conduct shopping research, and what mobile device do they prefer across various categories.
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Mobile is most significant at the start of consumer journey

Shoppers are most active on mobile right at the beginning of their shopping journey. Across all four categories – telecom, restaurants, auto and entertainment – around half of all US consumers use a mobile device for research at the beginning of their shopping journey.

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The incidence of mobile use declines as consumers approach conversion. The decline in mobile usage is most prominent among shoppers in the restaurant and entertainment category.

While 51% of restaurant goers use their mobile in the awareness stage, the figure drops to 24% in the influence stage and further halves to 12% in the conversion stage. Similarly, 25% of consumers seeking entertainment use their mobile devices in the influence stage and 10% in the conversion stage compared to 48% who use it in the awareness stage.

The drop in mobile device usage along the consumer journey suggests that among consumers in leisure categories, smartphones and tablets are key tools in the discovery of products and services but less significant when it comes to influencing the final decision or making the purchase. Restaurant goers and entertainment seekers are most likely to be with their friends and family who could play a significant role in shaping the final decision.

In comparison to leisure seeking consumers, telecom and auto shoppers are slightly more likely to use their mobile devices in the influence stage. 39% of telecom consumers and 37% of auto consumers continue to use their mobile devices in the influence stage. While access to information via mobile plays a significant role in shaping consumer’s purchase decision it, however, does not imply that mobile devices are the top influencers or that they trump other influencing factors such as peer recommendation as a source of influence.
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Consumers use mobile devices for shopping activities while in their homes

Mobile devices have made it possible for consumers to conduct shopping related activities at all times and places even more so compared to laptops. Consumers could be shopping in their beds at night before going to bed or on their way to work in the bus/train or in the bathroom. Despite these possibilities, most consumers prefer to carry out shopping related activities in the comfort of their homes.

Consumers are equally likely to use smartphones for shopping outside their homes as when they are inside. 53% of US smartphone using shoppers accessed the device when inside their homes in 2014 up from 32% in 2013. The increase in in-home usage is mainly due to better browsing speeds from home wireless connections and increased data tariff from mobile operators.

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As expected, 76% of tablet using shoppers accessed the device in their homes in 2014. While 3G enabled tablets do allow consumers to access the Internet when on-the-go, tablets have largely been a family-oriented device shared between family members in their living rooms and kitchens.
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Consumers use mobile to browse and discover possible options

One of the key mobile activities among US shoppers in the awareness stage is to browse for options directly fulfilling the consumer’s goal of discovery at this initial stage in their path to purchase.

Consumers are most likely to use their mobile devices to browse and discover possible options when shopping for entertainment related products and services. 49% of entertainment shoppers used their mobile device to browse and see options in the awareness stage. As mentioned earlier, since most of entertainment consumption in current times happens online it is not surprising to see almost half of entertainment buyers using their mobile to search for new music, movies, games and TV shows. Searching and buying tickets for offline entertainment services such as movies and concerts is also largely a mobile driven activity.

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Surprisingly, telecom and auto come in well ahead of restaurants for mobile browsing among consumers looking to discover purchase options. 48% of telecom shoppers and 47% of auto shoppers used their mobile device to browse and find options compared to 36% of restaurant shoppers.

People are less inclined to use mobile to discover new restaurants because they are already aware of options in the area through previous experience and peer recommendations unless they happen to be in a new city during their travels. The primary objective among restaurant going consumers is to have a ‘good time’ with others. They are less likely to take a risk by visiting a new place and instead are much more likely to stick to the tried-and-tested. They could use mobile to look up menus, prices, images and reviews of the places to share with others and convince them of the choice.

However, this does not diminish the importance of mobile in the consumer’s path to purchase with almost half of all telecom, auto and entertainment shoppers using their mobile devices to browse for possible options. Retailers and brands need to cater to the consumer’s urge to discover than to decide at this stage. They aren’t looking for in-depth information on each and every product. Instead they are seeking an overview of all products similar to one presented in comparison charts. Any marketing effort at his stage should be aimed to educate the customer about the category.
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Retailer websites and apps are top mobile discovery tools among shoppers

As mentioned earlier, the consumer’s goal in the awareness stage is to discover as many options as possible. The offline world offers peers, stores and outdoor advertising among other sources of discovery. In the last few years, online has evolved to offer consumers with varied sources of discovery beyond websites and opt-in notifications via email. Today consumers can access various retailer and shopping aggregator apps to discover options and collect information.

Retailer website remains the top choice among US shoppers for discovery of products and related information. 58% of US shoppers prefer visiting retailer website for product discovery. The figure was slightly lower among consumers who have bought using their mobile with 55% preferring to visit retailer website. In other words, consumers who have used mobile to make a purchase are less likely to turn to retailer websites compared to the general population.

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Among other discovery methods, 33% of US shoppers preferred to access retailer branded apps. The figure is 18% higher among consumers who have purchased using their mobile device at 39%. Similarly, 18% of mobile shoppers prefer shopping aggregator apps compared to 13% of all shoppers – a jump of 39%. Mobile shoppers are more likely to prefer mobile-based sources of discovery than the general population.

A significant finding is that consumers are more likely to prefer retailer branded apps over opt-in notifications and alerts usually delivered via emails, SMS and social media. Only 13% of US shoppers prefer to discover products and services through opt-in notifications and alerts well behind retailer branded apps (33%). Retailers struggling with from email and social media need to focus on developing branded mobile apps.
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Electronics and apparel most likely to be researched on mobile

Electronics – smartphones, tablets, laptops, TV, gaming consoles etc. – is the most researched product category on mobile among US shoppers. 72% of US consumers use their mobile devices to research electronics. Consumer driven research in the electronics category is common due to a sizable number of product launches and upgrades from manufacturers every year. Consumers want to make sure they are up-to-date on the latest technology trends before they start narrowing down their choices.

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Apparel is another category where consumers actively use mobile devices to discover possible options. 57% of shoppers in the clothing category and 46% in the shoes & fashion accessories category use their mobile devices to research products.

Window-shopping has long been a tradition among apparel buyers. Consumers prefer to browse to their heart’s content before narrowing down their choices. This age-old offline behavior is now being manifested on mobile devices. It’s not only convenient for shoppers to browse clothes, shoes and accessories on mobile but also a social experience as they can share it with peers, over social media and even find out if anyone in their network is interested in the same or already owns one.

Interestingly, US consumers are just as likely to research durables like household items and appliances on their mobile devices as they are to look up shoes and fashion accessories. 46% of US consumers research household items on mobile devices and 45% research appliances to discover possible purchase options. The high likelihood of using mobile for pre-purchase research among shoppers of durable goods shows that consumers aren’t using mobile only for electronics or for impulse purchases. Mobile also features in the decision process for long-lasting durables where consumers take their time and actively involve family and friends.
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US shoppers prefer tablets to smartphones across major categories

One common thread across all categories is that US consumers are more likely to use their tablets for product research than their smartphones. This trend holds even among electronics and apparel shoppers – categories in which marketers assume shoppers to predominantly use smartphones while on-the-go. In fact the clothing category had twice as many tablet users (38%) as smartphone users (19%).

This once again provides further evidence for tablet’s claim as a better shopping tool compared to smartphone. It’s inconclusive whether consumers prefer tablets due to larger screens or ergonomics. However, with well over 70% of tablet use for shopping happening at home, we can say that consumers prefer a familiar and comfortable environment to carry out their product research instead of doing it on-the-go in public spaces e.g. on the commute to work.

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Tablet users also outnumbered smartphone users 2 to 1 in the durables categories of household items (31% tablets vs 15% smartphones), appliances (30% tablets vs 15% smartphones), and furniture (24% tablets vs 11% smartphones) making it poised to replace personal laptops at home. While consumers carry smartphones with them all the time they are all about managing one’s busy social life. Pre-purchase research is best carried out during one’s downtime with a select few trusted peers making tablets a better option compared to smartphones.

The choice between tablets and smartphones for pre-purchase research also depends on the tools available on each device. Smartphones have an advantage over tablets when it comes to payment. With increased adoption of mobile payments across the US market, there is a chance shoppers might choose to conduct more research on smartphones. However, the key mobile shopping tool – apps and mobile websites – available to consumers today are more like a catalog that list products and at most allow shoppers to compare across brands and stores. A more advanced tool that provides consumers with relevant information and intuitive social features to guide them from the awareness stage to the conversion stage can and will tip the balance in the future.

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The US Consumer's Mobile Path to Purchase

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The Relevance of Brick-&-Mortar Stores in an Omni-Channel World

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The Influence Stage

In the influence stage consumers narrow down their options and conduct in-depth research to make a final purchase decision. Their goal is to gather trustworthy information and make a well-informed decision. The entire universe of factors that can influence a consumer to make a final decision includes friends, family, social networks, online media, TV, movies and many more.

In the section we will look into on how consumers use mobile devices to plan store visits, how they use it as a virtual shopping assistant inside stores, and how it stays relevant as a social sharing tool beyond the store visit.
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Mobile gives marketers opportunity to influence potential buyers

Most mobile shoppers across telecom, auto, restaurant and entertainment haven’t made up their minds when they access their mobile devices for research leaving a lot of room for influence.

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51% of telecom shoppers, 46% of entertainment shoppers, 43% of restaurant goers, and 42% of auto shoppers say they had a general idea of what they were looking for when they accessed they mobile devices to research products and services. There is opportunity to influence 40-50% of potential buyers via appropriate mobile apps and mobile websites that either provide relevant & trustworthy information or connect people with others who can provide such information.

Mobile using shoppers were most likely to be confident of their purchase decision when picking a restaurant to visit and least confident when picking a mobile service provider. 25% of restaurant goers say they knew exactly what they are looking for compared to 21% of shoppers in the auto category, 19% in the entertainment category, and 13% in the telecoms category.

Consumers in a social situation such as looking to visit a restaurant with friends and family are less dependent on mobile than on their immediate peers. Telecom marketers, on the other hand, have an opportunity to use mobile channels and influence customers looking to buy a new connection or switch from their existing one.

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49% of telecom shoppers conduct in-depth research on mobile devices to narrow down their choices compared to 20% of restaurant goers. There is also room for auto brands since 44% of potential auto buyers use their mobile devices to further research and consider the options they had discovered in the awareness stage.
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US shoppers use mobile devices to plan their store visits

The top mobile activity in the influence stage is to find a nearby location in order to visit the place. US shoppers use they mobile devices to find nearby locations, get directions and call the establishment for relevant information.

61% of smartphone using shoppers and 50% of tablet using shoppers look up possible locations they can visit near them. Finding all possible nearby locations is the top activity among smartphone using shoppers ahead of price comparison (57%) and finding coupons or deals (49%).

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Smartphones are also influential tools in helping consumers get directions to stores. 52% of shoppers access smartphones and 44% access tablets to look up directions to local stores. When it comes to deciding which store to visit it is not only the distance traveled or time taken that customers take into consideration. They also look at reviews from other customers into which location/branch offers a good experience. 41% of US shoppers accessed smartphones and 42% accessed tablets to look up reviews and decide on which store to visit.

It is also not uncommon among US shoppers to call the store before a visit. 38% of smartphone using shoppers and 32% of tablet using shoppers called local stores asking for information such as opening and closing times, availability of product, and on-going promotions before deciding to visit.

Overall, proximity to current location and availability of information on driving directions play a more important role in a customer’s choice of store over pricing and deals.
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Consumers use mobile device in-store as a virtual shopping assistant

Mobile usage doesn’t end with planning the store visit. Consumers continue to use their mobile devices inside the stores as well. 80% of consumers use mobile devices inside a store to enhance their shopping experience, up from 64% a year ago.

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Consumers use their mobile devices as a virtual shopping assistant during store visits. The most popular way to use mobile devices while in-store is to comparison shop (59%) followed by searching for coupons (48%) and reviews (47%). All three activities help shoppers gain valuable information that will help them narrow their choices they discovered in the awareness stage and make a final purchase decision.

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Retailers can help consumers move closer to the final decision by building apps that prioritize comparison-shopping above all else. Consumers do not want detailed product information like the one’s they are used to while browsing e-Commerce websites on laptops and PC. Only 29% of consumers looked for additional information on products.

Similarly, it is also not important to focus on reviews from friends through Facebook or Twitter integration. Only 25% of mobile using shoppers searched for a friend’s review. So while a shopper might go into their social networks and ask their peers for a review, the retailer’s app needs to focus most on helping the consumer compared the different options he or she has in mind.
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Consumers use mobile in-store most while shopping for clothes

Consumers use their mobile at various places of business throughout the day. Retail stores are the top business venue for consumer mobile usage accounting for 31% of mobile connections followed by restaurants (21%), service-related venues (19%) and financial institutions (15%).

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Mobile usage inside retail stores provides both functional and emotional benefit to the customer. They are not only able to compare prices and get coupons, but also able to connect with friend and get their opinion before making a purchase. The same holds for restaurants where mobile devices allow people to capture memories via pictures of social occasions or the food itself as evident from a large number of food images posted on Instagram and Facebook. Mobile use in service-related venues as well as financial institutions could be largely to kill time while waiting for the service.

Among shoppers who use mobile inside retail stores, they are most likely to use their device when shopping for clothes. 28% of in-store mobile usage happens in clothing stores followed by convenience stores (18%) and specialty stores (12%).

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A high social cost traditionally attached with buying clothes drives mobile usage for the category. Consumers’ final choices have to be approved by peer groups as well as fulfill individual tastes. Consequently, they take pictures of themselves and share it with peers for their feedback in addition to comparison shopping, searching for coupons, and looking up reviews.
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Shoppers use mobile to seek peer approval on social media

Mobile usage at the influence stage carries on after the store visit if consumers are yet to make up their minds. Once back from the store, consumers take to social media on their mobile phones where they share their discoveries to solicit opinions from friends and family.

52% of US consumers share retail related posts on social media. However, instead of asking others directly on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, consumers use indirect signals to monitor how others react to their potential choices. In other words, they keep track of activity such as likes and comments to gauge approval from their network.

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The most popular way for consumers to get peer feedback regarding potential purchase is to share product pictures on social networks. 51% of consumers visit social media platforms to post pictures of items they are interested to purchase and follow comments/replies and track likes/retweets. Consumers can visit the retailer website and share the product page link or simply post a picture they took at the store using their mobile device.

Surprisingly, only 18% of consumers visit social media sites to post videos of the products they are considering for purchase well below their likelihood of sharing coupons (29%) and sales (27%) on social channels. Consumers likely want to see if their network approves of the product at a lower price point or not. This shows that while video might be a good tool for discovery of products, it does not necessarily lead to influence in a consumer’s path to purchase.

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The US Consumer's Mobile Path to Purchase

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The Relevance of Brick-&-Mortar Stores in an Omni-Channel World

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The Conversion Stage

In the conversion stage consumers make the purchase. While this final stage in the consumer’s path to purchase may seem quite straightforward on the surface, it requires consumers to do more than just make the payment in exchange for the product or service. Consumers have to decide on where they’d purchase the product from – online or offline? They have to decide how they’d like to pay – cash or card or mobile?

It is also the stage where marketers can measure the value generated with respect to marketing efforts put in the first two steps of awareness and influence. In this section we will look into how mobile enables quicker paths to purchase, where mobile using consumers prefer to purchase from, and how does spending vary across mobile devices.
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More than half of mobile using consumers make a final purchase within one day

On average, 62% of consumers who used a mobile device during the shopping process made a purchase. An additional 16% deferred purchase for a future date.

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The conversion rate is highest among restaurant goers with 80% of mobile using consumers making a final purchase. Conversion rates among shoppers in the entertainment, telecom, and auto categories were comparable at 59%, 55% and 54%.

The higher conversion rate for restaurants is due to the fact that consumers have already made up their mind about visiting a restaurant before they use their mobile devices to check out menus, prices, location and other details to make a final decision.

With more than half of mobile using consumers making a final purchase and an additional 16% planning on a future purchase, mobile is definitely a key tool in converting a consumer into a buyer.

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One of the reasons for such a high conversion rate among mobile using shoppers is the short time period in which consumers go from first mobile usage to final purchase. 49% of smartphone using shoppers and 42% of tablet using shoppers complete their purchase within an hour or less of using their mobile device to start browsing for options.

On average 65% of mobile using shoppers make a purchase on the same day they started browsing for possible options on the device. Clearly, using mobile devices is a strong signal that consumers are not only serious about making the purchase but they want to buy the product soon.
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Consumers use mobile whether they make the final purchase online or offline

Despite the short duration in which mobile using shoppers complete their purchase, more than half (55%) of US consumers make the final purchase at a retail store. Other modes of option available to customers are via their mobile device, via PC and via phone.

The nature of products or services – specifically the impact of technology on the products or services – within each category has a big effect on whether it can be bought online or not e.g. major products in the restaurant and auto category i.e. fresh meals and cars aren’t suited for online purchase.

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Not surprisingly, 77% of restaurant goers make the final purchase at the restaurant itself. Online and phone restaurant purchases include reservations, delivery and take-out orders. Auto buyers, as expected, also make most of the purchase at offline locations. 67% of auto buyers bought a new car or car accessory in person.

Compared to restaurant and auto, only 42% of telecom buyers visited the store to make a purchase. 26% bought telecom products and services online via their PC and 20% via their mobile device for a total of 46% accounting for online channel of purchase. It is not uncommon for telecom shoppers to purchase online or even via telephone especially when they are simply renewing their existing contracts or getting the handset replaced. Store visits are mostly for service related queries following an issue with the device or the connection.

Even when purchasing offline, consumers use their mobile device to look for locations from where to purchase.31% of buyers in the auto category, 26% in the telecoms category, and 24% in the restaurant category used their mobile device to find nearby locations before zeroing in on the final store to make the purchase.

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Consumers who bought entertainment related products (game consoles, MP3 players, TV etc) and services (movies, music, video games etc.) were the least likely to make the final purchase in offline locations and most likely to purchase it on their mobile device. 37% of entertainment shoppers used their mobile device to make the final purchase and 26% accessed their PC for a total of 63% who used online channels for purchase compared to 32% preferred offline channels. The high incidence of online purchase in the entertainment category is largely to due to the digitization of media in the last decade. Consumers are no longer interested in buying CDs and DVDs, but instead opt for iTunes, Netflix and various mobile application stores for their entertainment fix.
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Consumer prefer tablets over smartphones to buy bigger ticket items

Entertainment might be the biggest category driving purchases made straight from mobile but US consumers have in general been grown warmer to mobile purchases. Overall 23% of US shoppers who used their mobile device inside a retail store made a purchase on the device itself up from 12% a year ago.

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Price plays a key role in the consumer’s decision to buy straight from the mobile device. For both smartphones and tablets people are most comfortable spending $100-$249. Smartphones outpace tablets for purchases under $250, while tablets outpace smartphones for purchase over $250.

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67% of consumers prefer a smartphone for purchases below $250. 74% of consumers prefer a tablet for purchases of $100 or more with 50% preferring tablets for purchases of $250 or more. In other words, consumers prefer tablets to smartphones when buying bigger ticket items.

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The US Consumer's Mobile Path to Purchase

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The Relevance of Brick-&-Mortar Stores in an Omni-Channel World

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References

1. Mobile Path to Purchase: Understanding mobile’s role in the consumer’s path to purchase for specific industries
2. Retail Research and Purchase Behavior, Mobile Audience Insights Report, Ninth Decimal