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Half of Web-enabled phone owners have shopped from their handset: study

October 18, 2010

Chipotle is an example of a quick-service restaurant chain that drives sales via mobile

Chipotle is an example of a quick-service restaurant chain that drives sales via mobile

With the increasing ownership of Web-enabled phones, a survey from Lightspeed Research has shown the potential for a new boom in mobile shopping.

The Lightspeed study found that 48 percent of mobile device owners surveyed made a purchase via their mobile phone. Although mobile shopping was most popular with consumers ages 18-34, more than one-third of those ages 55-plus have also made a purchase via mobile.

“Mobile commerce is becoming more widely accepted—nearly half of all respondents have made a purchase on their mobile phone, which is the real key finding,” said Naor Chazan, marketing director for the Americas of Lightspeed Research, Basking Ridge, NJ. “The most surprising finding is that older users in the 55-and-up age bracket are diving into mobile commerce.

“Thirty-eight percent of people in that age group had already taken advantage of mobile commerce, and they are more likely to buy travel-related items using their handsets such as plane tickets or hotel accommodations,” he said. “Brands and retailers should mirror the traditional ecommerce experience on the mobile device.

“Screens are smaller, and you have to take that into account, but as the phones get smarter, mobile sites and apps will be able to mirror the online experience more closely.”

This survey was conducted from Aug. 26-30  and is based on 3,905 respondents using Lightspeed Research’s U.S. Mobile Phone Panel.

Lightspeed Research offers data collection services including survey design, sample management, programming and reporting. The company is part of Kantar, the information insight and consultancy division of WPP.


Mobile commerce growing at Lightspeed
Applications or games were the most popular items purchased via mobile, with music and ringtones coming a distant second and third, respectively.

Those under 45 were the most likely to have purchased applications, games or movies/videos for their phones, while those 55 and older were most likely to have purchased travel-related items such as tickets or hotel accommodations via mobile.


Most consumers—54 percent—prefer to make their mobile purchase via a company’s Internet site, and this is particularly true for those aged 55-plus.

Purchasing via applications is also popular, with 41 percent preferring this method.

When it comes to paying for mobile shopping purchases, only 17 percent prefer to have the items charged directly to their phone bill. Most—48 percent—prefer to use a credit card.


Respondents are not just using their mobiles to buy items—80 percent have used their phone to locate their closest store, 70 percent have compared prices using their phone, and 65 percent have read product reviews on their mobile.

“The younger generation is most involved in using their handsets for maps and store locators, reading product descriptions and price comparisons, but consumers 55-and-up are right behind them, with more adoption than we thought,” Mr. Chazan said.


Just over one-third do their mobile shopping via iPhone, 25 percent use an Android-based phone, and 19 percent use a BlackBerry device. 


This research highlights that mobile phones are a viable way for retailers to reach customers.

With almost half of survey respondents having already purchased this way, and many more researching store locations, comparing product prices and reading product reviews, the shopping experience is being completely transformed.

Retailers have a real opportunity to understand this change and reach customers and potential customers in a new way.

With the advent of location-based services and coupon applications such as Groupon, Yowza and Coupon Sherpa, retailers could truly be attracting shoppers off the streets with enticing and relevant offers served in-the-moment.

And barriers to mobile commerce adoption are quickly crumbling.

“Payment security is not the biggest issue in mobile commerce, with only 13 percent saying that is the reason they’re not using mobile commerce,” Mr. Chazan said. “Most consumers are happy to use their credit cards to purchase things via mobile, so there is some level of trust.

“The real barrier is the experience itself, with almost half of respondents who have never shopped on the phone say that they prefer shopping on their computer,” he said. “With the increase in smartphone adoption, the increase in ecommerce applications and the increase in mobile-friendly ecommerce Web sites, it is only a matter of time before we see more people becoming aware of mobile commerce and buying on their phone.

“The drivers of growth will be quicker and easier payment mechanisms and a greater quantity of higher-quality mobile-friendly ecommerce Web sites.”

Final Take

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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