By Rieva Lesonsky
We all know consumers are using smartphones, tablets and desktop/laptop computers to shop. But new research from Google and Ipsos shows that consumers are using the different devices for different things, and at different stages in the purchasing process.
First, the study found, consumers use smartphones at many different points in their purchase path. Forty-one percent of survey respondents who used their mobile phones to help with shopping said they made a purchase directly on their smartphone. Forty-six percent said they researched an item on their smartphone, then went to a store to make the purchase. And 37 percent said they researched an item on their smartphone then made their purchase online.
Interestingly, the old-fashioned way of buying (i.e., going to the store) still dominated, but not by much. With these percentages pretty evenly divided, clearly you have the best chance of capturing the customer’s dollar if you offer them all three options for buying.
Another key mobile insight that emerged is that consumers used all three devices throughout the research process, but some activities were more popular on specific devices. Consumers who owned tablets read product reviews and looked for product information more from their tablet devices than from their desktop computer or smartphone. Some 77 percent of consumers read reviews on tablets, while 70 percent did so on phones and 67 on desktops.
Google says the preference for tablets for these activities is likely due to the combination of the large screen and portability of the device, which makes it esy for consumers to use it more often and in more places. “Consumers are carrying tablets with them to the couch, while in the kitchen, and even to bed,” the report states.
It’s not surprising that more consumers used their smartphones to contact a retailer. With phone in hand, it’s a natural progression from checking to see if a store has an item to looking up directions or store hours and then making a call. Companies that have click-to-call phone numbers on their websites make this even easier for consumers.
While much was made over the holiday shopping season of the idea that consumers were using their phones to comparison-shop in stores, in reality price comparisons were most common on desktops (79 percent, compared to 61 percent who compared prices on smartphones). Similarly, 73 percent of respondents said they looked for discounts or deals on desktops, but just 46 percent did so on smartphones.
What do these numbers mean to your business? Google recommends that retailers who want to gain an advantage must do three things: first, make sure your website is mobile-optimized; second, provide click-to-call options so it’s easy for customers to reach you; and third, create a seamless experience between online and offline in-store.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore tablet and smartphone shoppers. “It’s the advertisers who engage with their customers across all three devices that will have a distinct advantage in 2012,” the report states.
Image by Flickr user Phil Campbell (Creative Commons)Google+