A Third of Online Shoppers Also Browse on Mobile

A third of users visiting online retailers over the holiday period also accessed e-commerce sites through mobile devices, according to a ForeSee Results survey.

From November 29 to December 15, 2010, the company polled almost 10,000 users who visited one of the top 40 U.S. e-commerce sites during the two weeks prior. It found 33 percent of U.S. respondents visited an online retailer from their mobile device in that time, compared with 24 percent in 2009.

Meanwhile 11 percent of shoppers reported making a purchase from their phones this holiday season, compared with two percent that did so the previous year. Other popular tasks included comparing pricing information for different retailers, which 56 percent of mobile users reported doing, as well as browsing similar products and reading product reviews.

“Analysts are predicting that smartphone use will outpace feature phone use by the end of 2011, which means more people than ever before will have retailer websites, mobile websites, and retailer-supplied applications within arm’s reach any time, any place,” suggested report author Kevin Ertell, VP of retail strategy at ForeSee.

According to the report, 26 percent of respondents said they plan to visit a retailer from a mobile device in the near future but haven’t yet. Ertell suggests, therefore, that more than half of all online shoppers are either already using or plan to use their phones for retail purposes. “This finding indicates a huge opportunity for retailers with sophisti¬cated, user-centric mobile sites and apps,” he wrote.

The research also suggested recent investment from retailers in fully transactional mobile apps and sites could be well placed, as users continue to increase their use of such channels. “Use of retailer-developed mobile applications has increased seven-fold, and pur¬chasing from phones has quintupled. Any retailer not making huge strides in developing user-centric mobile shopping apps is missing a huge opportunity,” the report states.

One example of a retailer looking to capitalize on that growth is Amazon, which recently launched an iPhone app enabling consumers to compare their prices with those of in-store retailers simply by scanning product barcodes. Users are then presented with the opportunity to buy the item there and then through the site’s one-click ordering system.

Other companies, such as U.K. supermarket Tesco and online auction site eBay, have used similar technology in their own mobile apps. As consumers become more accustomed to using their mobile devices for retail purposes the trend looks set to continue.

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