Mobile Devices “More Important” than PC in Shopping Research — Report

Mobile platform xAd has released its 2015 “Mobile Path to Purchase” report (registration required). The report reflects how consumers are interacting with mobile devices as they research and shop for products and services locally. Now in its third year the survey has seen steady increases in the centrality and importance of mobile devices in consumer shopping behavior.

The relative importance of mobile vs. desktop computers in the research process has been shifting. Mobile now exceeds the PC as the “most important research tool” according to the study, which polled 3,000 US and UK smartphone users who’ve used mobile to help make a purchase decision in the past 30 days.

xAd path to purchase data

As you might expect users under 35 are much more likely to favor smartphones vs. older users. The report says, “Smartphone owners under 35 are 3x more likely to rely on their smartphones as their primary source of information than consumers over the age of 55.”

A related and very interesting finding is the “mobile only” shopping population. Among key verticals xAd found that smartphones were the only internet devices used to support purchase decision making to varying degrees illustrated below. As the graphic indicates, nearly two thirds of restaurant searchers and, amazingly, 1 in 6 car buyers were relying solely on their phones for research and information.

xAd 2015 path to purchase

The report also documents changes in user location and smartphone usage. In 2012 when the study was initiated, most smartphone research was conducted out of home (69%). Today 58% of users are doing research on their phones at home.

The report accurately argues that location is a proxy for purchase intent: people at home are often more casual or at an earlier stage of research; purchase intent isn’t as immediate. On the go users tend to have a much stronger purchase intent: 42% are looking to make a purchase within an hour.

As you might also expect, on the go users are much more likely to convert in stores than online. Interestingly 36% of mobile influenced conversions among at-home smartphone users happen on mobile devices. In other words a meaningful percentage of the at-home audience is completing an e-commerce transaction on a mobile device and not on the PC.

xAd 2015 to purchase

Finally xAd confirms that “showrooming” is not the threat it was once perceived to be by retailers. Many in-store shoppers are using their phones to confirm that the product in front of them is the right product or worth buying. The report found that while about 35 percent of in-store smartphone users did later go online to buy, the majority completed their transaction in the store.

There’s more data in the report than I’ve reflected here. You can down the full report after registration here.

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