Smartphones and tablets now account for 51% of consumer time spent shopping online, beating PCs for the first time, according to new mobile commerce research in the US.
The study, by Millennial Media and comScore, also indicates that most mobile shoppers in the US are in the 18-to-44 age bracket, while tablet shoppers tend to have a higher pay scale.
The combined 51% of time on retail sites took place on devices as of February was made up of 37% on smartphones, 14% on tablets. This was higher than 49% on PCs, the study found.
While the desktop share fell 84% from 2010 comScore indicates that mobile is actually helping extend the desktop audience by 45% as consumers that start on PCs continue their shopping experience across devices.
The mobile audience
More than half the U.S. audience is men (52%) and 48% women, with most in the 18 to 44 age range. Nearly half (48%) have an Android smartphone, and 45% own an iPhone.
Tablet owners tend to skew more affluent, with more than half with household incomes higher than $75,000, and 47% access retail content, the study found.
The study also found that most smartphone owners (55%) have used their handsets while in stores to compare prices, and 52% have made online purchases.
Other common in-store mobile activities include scanning a product barcode (58%), researching product features (57%), finding a store location (50%), and checking product availability (47%), and finding coupons or deals (44%).
The study highlighted gender differences in shopping, with women a third more likely to use their phones for social actions like texting a friend or family member about a product. Men, meanwhile, are two-thirds less likely to scan a barcode or compare prices.
Other things influencing a purchase include customer reviews (35%), mobile coupons (33%), expert reviews (24%), store rewards (23%), a company-sponsored social site (19%), and personal recommendations (18%). The report pointed out that mobile coupons and rewards are also price-related tools retailers can use to incentivize buying.
Best sectors for mobile
Clothing tops the list of non-digital products that people are buying on smartphones (39%), followed by tickets (24%), physical books (23%), meals for delivery or pick-up (22%) and consumer electronics (21%). Purchases on tablets followed a similar pattern, with clothing the most popular category by a wider margin (54%), followed by books (29%), tickets (24%), daily deals (23%), and consumer electronics (22%).
Mobile campaign goals
The main goals of mobile campaigns by far are driving foot traffic (37%) and driving site/mobile traffic (34%). Increasing brand awareness was the aim of 14% of ad efforts. National brands account for the largest chunk of retail ad dollars, at 34%, trailed by computers and electronics firms (21%), clothing and luxury brands (19%), online retailers (10%), and home and garden sellers (9%).
comScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni said: “The second quarter of 2013 saw a healthy acceleration in the online spending growth rate, to nearly sixteen percent, on the strength of a particularly enthusiastic April from consumers.”
“Increased spending growth for the quarter not only reflects the long-term share shift towards digital commerce, but also the near-term signals of sustained improvement in consumer sentiment. This strength is particularly significant since the second quarter tends to be seasonally lighter for e-commerce, and, as such, represents a positive indicator for the back half of the year.”
The mobile commerce research findings were based on comScore’s MobiLens and Tablens U.S. Surveys in March with 32,088 mobile users aged 13 and older, and 6,796 tablet users, respectively. Data also came from comScore’s Mobile Metrix 2.0 service as of March, and Millennial’s first-quarter SMART report.
Download the full report here (registration required)