Mobile Shopping Behaviors — Where There’s A Will …

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A few days ago, we put up a post discussing some recent findings from a JiWire study (Q1 2011 Mobile Audience Insights Report) that compared engagement on location-based services from Q4 of 2010 to Q1 of 2011. The study also included some interesting findings about mobile shopping behavior that indicate that although the move to actual purchases via the mobile platform may not be in flood mode, the will to do so is definitely there.

For example, the study revealed that although only 17% of those surveyed actually use their smartphones to make purchases, almost 8 out of 10 (79%) stated that they were “comfortable making purchases from a mobile device (smartphone or tablet).” And such purchases, and purchase considerations, aren’t confined to the 99 cent app market either — 50% indicated they are comfortable spending $100 or more via the mobile device on a purchase. 7% even set their bar higher than $1,000. Trust in the medium doesn’t seem to be at issue, at least in terms of exposing financial data.

Looking at changes from Q4 2010 to Q1 2011, in terms of shopping behavior on their mobile devices, of those who researched product categories on a mobile device, 31% said they purchased an item at a brick-and-mortar outlet (a 5% increase over Q4 2010). 40% of this group went on to purchase online (up 19% from Q4 2010), while 20% made the purchase on their mobile device itself (up 1.5% from Q4 2010). Why the relatively small increase in those making the purchase on their mobile device itself? After all, 79% are saying they are comfortable making such purchases and they do not seem to be concerned about actually making payments on the mobile device.

A big factor in this may be usability. After all, proceeding through the purchase process itself on a website can be a complex process. For sites that do not have a specific mobile version of their website, with the purchase process optimized for the smaller screen and other factors, it can be a daunting task to take on a full-fledged shopping cart purchase when the user is forced to scroll all ways to reach different parts of the form. Plus, users may be on the go when they undertake the research phase and make the decision to purchase and decide to leave the actual process of payment until they are at their home computer.

Other factors can certainly be involved. But what this tells us is that although there is a will to research and make decisions about products via mobile devices, there is still a disconnect when it comes to the actual purchase. Be it circumstance, usability, or whatever, if someone is ready and willing to take the plunge, website owners need to do everything they can to make it as easy as possible for these prospects to take the final step and complete the purchase. If you can refine your purchase process down to the simplest level, and optimize it for the mobile platform, you may just provide that extra edge that is needed to persuade the mobile shopper to buy now and pay now.

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