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Mobile’s role in shopping research grew during back-to-school sales

September 2, 2014

photo 1[2]_optThe number of consumers taking to mobile first to find out about seasonal deals and promotions during the back-to-school shopping season surged, fueled by improvements in mobile-centric experiences.

Thinknear’s Mobile Marketer’s Guide to Back-to-School Shopping report said that 40 percent of consumers spent at least one to two hours planning for back-to-school shopping on mobile. The statistics, based on consumer-panel research conducted last month, shed light on brands’ embrace of the opportunity to provide a mobile platform that motivates a consumer to use it.

“I am not surprised at all by any of these results,” said Sheryl Kingstone, research director for Boston-based Yankee Group. “For two reasons. One, the shift to mobile has happened especially for this demographic from their parents to the kids themselves.

“Two, Staples, a leading supplier of school supplies, has been thinking mobile-first for a while now,” she said. “Partnering with schools for mobile back-to-school lists tied with kickbacks to certain participating schools. I would expect to see at the top of the list coupons and rewards along with shopping lists, whether in a mobile app or just located on the phone.”

Shopping list
Four in 10 consumers spent up to two hours on mobile, planning back-to-school shopping.

The number of consumers using mobile to research back-to-school shopping soared to 6.4 million, up a whopping 172 percent from a year earlier.

Most consumers spent their time planning by looking for sales/coupons and making a shopping list, according to the survey. Forty-six percent used mobile to look for sales or coupons, according to the guide. Forty-seven percent used it to make a shopping list and 21 percent used it for comparison shopping.

Eight percent and seven percent used mobile to research product reviews and product ideas, respectively.

Forty percent of shoppers were willing to travel up to five miles for the best price, according to the guide, while 37 percent were willing to travel six to 15 miles. Twelve percent said they would travel 16 to 25 miles for the best price and 11 percent said they would travel more than 26 miles.

Seventy-seven percent of shoppers would not go further than five miles for a good deal. Rural shoppers traveled six to 15 miles for a good deal, the most of any group.

Forty-five percent said they used a mobile device while shopping in physical stores.

Mobile research identifies the best deals.

Mobile research identifies the best deals.

In the stores they compared price (27 percent), read product reviews (27 percent), found coupons (33 percent), viewed store circulars (27 percent) and used mobile for entertainment (3 percent).

Two in five would like to receive relevant discounts on mobile while at the store.

Consumers said they wanted their mobile device to receive coupons (47 percent), price comparisons (30 percent), product information (27 percent), product recommendations (20 percent), store maps  (20 percent).

A report from G/O Digital on “What the Cool Kids Bought” completes the picture of the back-to-school shopper.

Supplies top list
Organizational supplies dominated the list of top 20 products with which consumers interacted digitally, researching promos and sales online before purchasing in-stores.

Chicago had the highest mobile traffic scoping out deals and comparing prices, followed by Atlanta and New York.

Toy stores took the lead with 53 percent of all mobile visits to retailers.

“The stores that win out are ones that embrace the entire customer journey and shopping persona’s from price conscious consumers to social shoppers,” Yankee Group’s Ms. Kingstone said. “These personas will vary based on geography as the data clearly shows the different needs between Chicago and San Francisco.”

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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