Shoppers rely on mobile devices and apps to find best deals, but few use devices to purchase products: study

Sep 14, 2012

With back-to-school season in full swing, tech-savvy consumers are using their smart phones and apps to find the best bargains. Many shoppers, however, are still reluctant to make those purchases using their mobile devices, according to a new report by Ryerson University's Centre for the Study of Commercial Activity (CSCA).

"We're seeing more retailers releasing for consumers to purchase from their smart phones or help them make an informed decision before buying a product, so we're interested in finding out how effective they really are," says Andrew Murray, a GIS analyst at CSCA and a co-author of the report.

Murray and his co-author Tony Hernandez, director of CSCA, conducted an in April of 836 full- and part-time aged 18 to 25 at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management.

The researchers asked the students about the type of device they own; the number of apps, especially shopping-related, they download each week, month and year; types of shopping activities they do with their mobile device (buying a product, looking up store hours, reading product reviews); and their attitudes towards using mobile devices to shop.

Murray and Hernandez also looked at barriers these consumers may face when using their mobile device to buy a product (i.e. concerns over security of information, costly data plan fees).

The researchers found that the majority of students own a smart phone (91%), with the remainder owning tablets and cell phones. Two-thirds of the students surveyed use their mobile device to look up information about retailers or products, yet only one-third made purchases with their smart phone. The most common purchases made on mobile devices were music/video (32%), video games (24%), books (19%) and fashion (19%).

Most students used their mobile device to look up store hours (62%), find a store location (59%), search for product information (55%) and compare product pricing (40%). The least common activities were providing feedback on a product (5%), redeeming gift cards (6%) and receiving product promotions based on current location (7%).

Other key findings of Murray and Hernandez's research include:

  • Most students surveyed prefer to shop in physical store locations as opposed to online;
  • Nearly 70 per cent of students prefer to view a product in-store before purchasing it online;
  • About one third of the respondents would like to see more retailers provide staff with mobile devices to better serve the customer.
"These findings are telling us that consumers haven't fully embraced the mobile online shopping experience for retail transactions," says Hernandez. "However they are using their and tablets as a primary source of information while shopping before they make purchase a product or service."

The researchers also predict more consumers will choose to purchase a broader range of products and services using their and download more retail apps, a trend that their findings uncovered as well. Just over 40 per cent of students in the survey see themselves making a purchase with their device and 58 per cent plan to download more retail apps within the next year.

"In today's competitive marketplace and changing digital retail landscape, retailers have to keep their fingers on the pulse of consumers' purchasing behaviour, adds Murray. "That is the key to connecting with customers, nurturing brand loyalty and ultimately generating more sales."

The report, "Retail in the Digital Age: The Mobile Shopping Companion," was published by the Centre for the Study of Commercial Activity.

Explore further: 3 Qs: Economist makes the case for new quasi-experiments as a way of studying environmental issues

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Augmented reality makes shopping more personal

Jul 03, 2012

While in-store shopping accounts for 92 percent of retail volume, consumers are expecting the same levels of personalization and customization that they do when they shop online; 58 percent of consumers want ...

Ringing up sales on smartphones

Nov 24, 2010

As the holiday season and "Black Friday" approach, consumers will be looking for deals in the still struggling economy. Online shopping has become popular with many customers, and now a new technology enables ...

Mobile marketing for the future

Dec 20, 2011

Bar code scanner apps turn smart phone cameras into a way for shoppers to receive instant, on-the-go, online price comparisons for any item with a Universal Product Code. Does this mean consumers are moving toward online ...

Shoppers whip out smart phones to streamline purchases

Nov 12, 2010

Standing before a display of heart-rate monitors at Sports Authority, Robert Dries of Brookfield, Wis., was ready to buy the one he'd heard about at his health club. But before making the purchase, he decided to pull out ...

Recommended for you

Which foods may cost you more due to Calif. drought

Apr 17, 2014

With California experiencing one of its worst droughts on record, grocery shoppers across the country can expect to see a short supply of certain fruits and vegetables in stores, and to pay higher prices ...

Performance measures for CEOs vary greatly, study finds

Apr 16, 2014

As companies file their annual proxy statements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) this spring, a new study by Rice University and Cornell University shows just how S&P 500 companies have ...

Investment helps keep transport up to speed

Apr 16, 2014

Greater investment in education and training for employees will be required to meet the future needs of the transport and logistics industry, according to recent reports by Monash University researchers.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans

Few Americans question that smoking causes cancer. But they have more skepticism than confidence in global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and have the most trouble believing a Big Bang created the universe 13.8 ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.