PhotoYou don't need to be chained to your computer to go e-shopping. More and more these days, consumers are using tablets and smartphones to interact with retailers.

A report produced in partnership with comScore and The Partnering Group finds more than half (55%) of all retail-related Internet time originated on smartphones and tablet devices combined, compared with just 45 percent originating from desktop devices.

Growth spurt

Specifically, smartphone usage in June 2013 totaled 44% of retail Internet minutes, versus 17% in June 2010; and tablet Internet usage accounted for 11% of total minutes on retail sites.

During the second quarter of this year, mobile commerce (m-commerce) dollars totaled $4.7 billion or 8.6% of total U.S. e-commerce dollars during that period. Additionally, between the second quarter of 2012 and the same three months this year, m-commerce grew 24%, compared with 16% growth in e-commerce as a whole.

"Since U.S. consumers now spend more than half of their time on retailers’ websites using their smartphones and tablets, mobile can’t be viewed simply as an ancillary device or action, it now epitomizes how consumers think and act when they interact with retailers,” said Shop.org Executive Director Vicki Cantrell. “Retailers have to continue to invest to make sure they get their mobile offerings right, or will increasingly risk alienating customers and leaving significant money on the table."

Retail a leader

When it comes to popular mobile content categories, retail was one of the fastest-growing areas among consumers. From June 2012 to June 2013, retail grew 49% as a content category on smartphones, only behind beauty and fashion, home and lifestyle, and instant messaging services.

The report found that online consumers use their smartphone and tablet devices for many shopping-related activities. As for in-store mobile activities, in the April-June quarter of this year nearly, six in 10 (57%) of smartphone users visited the same company’s site or app while in the store, compared with 43% who consulted another company’s site or app. The top reason consumers consulted the retailer’s or another company’s website or app was to view price differences.

“Retailers have an immediate opportunity to proactively encourage shoppers to use in-store Wi-Fi and engage with the retailer’s mobile-enabled websites and apps,” said Peter Leech, managing director of The Partnering Group, “It’s a big opportunity to capture those eyeballs before they seek an alternate source of product detail and pricing information on another retailer’s mobile offering.”

Bargain hunting

Among those smartphone users who went to the same retailer’s site, 59% wanted to see if there was an online discount available. Similarly, among those who checked a different retailer’s site, 92% wanted to see if they could get a better deal on price. Smartphone owners also used their devices while in the store to take a picture of a product (23%), text or call family or friends about a product (17%), and send a picture of a product to family and friends (17%).

“Mobile is having a profound effect on how people engage with the retail experience today,” said Lynée Alves, director of retail solutions at comScore. “Not only are consumers using their mobile devices to engage more with retail sites and apps, they are also beginning to transact on these devices in a meaningful way. The m-commerce revolution is building momentum, and retailers must adapt to this new landscape if they are to succeed in this emerging channel.”

Marketplace evolution

The report also found:

  • One-third (35%) of smartphone owners in in the second quarter of 2013 used their device to locate a store, one-quarter (24%) used it to find coupons and deals, and 19% used it to look up product availability.
  • Among consumers who made a purchase online in during the period, 69% of those purchases came from desktop devices, versus 34%t from tablets and 21% from smartphones.
  • The average amount spent during the quarter was higher on smartphones than on tablets: shoppers spent an average of $97 on smartphones and $76 on tablets.
  • Nearly two-thirds of smartphone owners in used a browser to research product features (64%), and more than half used a browser to find a store location (59%) and to find coupons/deals (53%). Seven in 10 (72%) smartphone owners report using only apps to make shopping lists, as well as 46% who do so to view daily deals.
  • Apparel and accessories (37%) and event tickets (25%) were among the top products that smartphone shoppers bought with their device during the second quarter.

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