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One-Third US Smartphone Owners Use Mobile Device to Research Purchases at Least Weekly

smartphone retail in-store

More than half of smartphone owners in the United States check their devices a few times or more an hour, as illustrated by a recent Gallup poll, so it’s no surprise that mobile is a crucial starting point for consumer brand engagement.

But retailers are continually falling short of expectations.

Adobe surveyed more than 4,000 people in the U.S., United Kingdom, France and Germany throughout June and July for its 2015 Mobile Consumer Report, published this month, to determine how happy they are with their mobile capabilities, where they spend the majority of their time and how they react to emerging tactics for mobile marketing.

The results: The software maker discovered that less than 50 percent of consumers are satisfied with mobile app and browser experiences.

The majority of those surveyed, including 71 percent of U.S. mobile elites (tech-savvy consumers that make up roughly a fifth of the population), rated convenience as the most important element to their mobile app experience, followed by price checking and receiving digital coupons.

Personalized content, meanwhile, ranked lowest in all four countries.

“As more consumers make purchases from their mobile devices, the need to understand and respond to consumer behavior becomes all the more important for retailers [who] need to focus on making a seamless shopping experience that quickly connects the buyer to what they want,” the report said. “Highly detailed product pages and multiple layers of navigation may seem important to companies, but these practices only serve to frustrate today’s consumers who expect lightning-fast results.”

But while consumers indicated indifference to personalized content, Adobe pointed out that retailers should still pay attention to it.

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“For example, product recommendations or coupons based on purchase history, interests or even location can increase the convenience factor for consumers,” the report added, noting, “In a market driven by price wars, creating a unique experience through personalization is a key factor in differentiating your brand from all of the rest.”

Shoppable media is another feature that can go a long way toward improving convenience: offering shoppers the opportunity to tap product in a lifestyle image or video to reveal more details or additional suggestions and click to buy without scrolling or moving to another page.

As the report stated, “With 65 percent of survey respondents making purchases from their mobile devices, retailers can’t afford anything less than a perfectly streamlined experience. While most retail sites are transactional, an emergence of quick-look galleries offers buyers a more relevant and engaging shopping experience, such as J. Crew’s ‘Shop this look’ feature.”

58% use mobile devices in-store

While mobile commerce still makes up a minute portion of overall purchases (only 1 percent of the $3.25 trillion retail spending market in 2014 in the U.S.), retailers would be remiss to discount its importance.

When given the choice between researching product and price information via mobile web or an app, at least two-thirds of shoppers surveyed said they prefer the former. In fact, one-third of U.S. smartphone owners research purchases on their devices at least once a week, while 58 percent of mobile elites reported checking in-store features on their mobile while shopping.

“Marketers should take note and ensure their mobile channels are capable of converting researchers into purchasers,” the report noted, concluding, “Whether the consumer intends to make a purchase in the physical store or through their mobile device, it’s important that brands give shoppers the information they’re looking for wherever they are. With so many of today’s younger generations being mobile-first, your brand’s mobile experience is often the first impression new buyers receive.”