Australian Smartphone and Tablet Data / Mobile Shopping

Australians shopping, showrooming on mobile

The Australian retail market has been transformed by smartphone shopping behaviour. Australian consumers regularly use their mobile phones to research and buy goods, both online and in store. Recent data heightens the imperative for retailers and brand owners to link their in-store and digital experiences.

Nielsen recently released new data on Australian mobile shopping from the 2014 Christmas period. They found that during December 2014, almost half (44%) of all Australians with connected mobiles used their phone to search online for gift ideas in the lead up to Christmas.  This same trend is reflected by last year’s Click Frenzy data which revealed that 43% of their total traffic in 2014 came from smartphones and tablets (up from 33% the year before).  Mobile use in shopping activity is increasing at a fast pace.  Actual sales from both smartphones and tablets during the Click Frenzy period made up 20.4% of total sales in 2014,  So while nearly 1/4 of online traffic came from Smartphones, they made up only 7% of sales.  Certainly Australians are still more comfortable making their purchases on a larger screen; tablets delivered better outcomes in terms of converting traffic to sales – with tablets representing 18% of traffic and 13% of sales.

Almost half of Australians used their mobile to search for gift ideas during the 2014 Christmas period (Nielsen)

Nielsen found that while only 1 in 5 Australians actually purchased items using their mobile device, the report provides concrete evidence of the prevalence of showrooming in the Australian market.   The report noted that more than 1/3 of Australians used their mobile phone for a shopping related activity while in a shopping centre.  Showrooming is the act of using a retail store as a showroom for viewing a physical product, before purchasing it elsewhere, usually online.  Neilsen’s report noted that of customers using a mobile phone in shopping centres, around 1/4 made online price comparisons; a typical showrooming activity.  Other popular activities included taking photos of ideas or items for later purchase and researching items in more detail, while out shopping.

Mobile research and showrooming activities included:

  • 36% researched an item or gift
  • 22% took photos of items they planned to purchase
  • 26% made online price comparisons
  • 14% took photos of ideas while they were out and about and 9% took photos of an ad or article.

Aside from delivering product information to customers via smartphones, retailers can take advantage of the prevalence of mobile shopping behaviours by reaching out to potential customers as they research and establish buying intentions on their smartphone.  These opportunities extend beyond the retail environment as well.  For example, 24% of respondents in the Nielsen survey used their commute time to search for the latest deals or research ideas, while 19% researched products to fill idle time when waiting for something.

Nielsen’s Australian data is very similar to a recent American study by SecureNet.  SecureNet’s study of 750 American consumers called The Way We Pay found that more than half of U.S. consumers (55%) have used a mobile device to research a product while in store.  Broken out by age group, the percentage is significantly higher in certain groups, particularly 30 – 44 year olds at 72% and 18 – 29 year olds at 68%.  The following chart illustrates the percentage of shoppers using mobile devices to research products in store, broken down by age group.   These figures are a little higher than in Australia, most likely due to the fact that product information is more readily available on mobile sites and apps in the U.S. where mobile retail practices are better established.  It is only a matter of time before we’ll see Australian consumers reflecting the below usage patterns.

SecureNet graph 1

The report also ‘identified’ a new and opposite trend, which they dubbed ‘Webrooming’. Webrooming is the act of researching products online and buying them in-store.  It seems that this is less a new trend than an established research and buying pattern that most of us have been familiar with for some time.  Consumers have been researching products online for years, while it is only recently that the actual purchasing stage has moved online for many.  What the report does highlight is that many consumers still prefer to complete their purchase in-store, even when online purchasing is available. This certainly highlights a need for more compelling online shopping processes that are convenient for consumers.  This Infographic from Myriad Mobile illustrates this behaviour for the U.S. noting that while 51% of consumers are showrooming, 60% are still browsing online and buying in store.

Showrooming infographic



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