Retail Becomes Fastest-Growing Mobile Category

As smartphones become more mainstream, mobile is becoming more pervasive in all aspects of consumers’ lives. And online shopping is quickly becoming a popular activity.
Mobile content tied to services like travel, dining and movies—more established mobile categories—is still on an uptick, but online retail experienced the largest increase vs. 2010, with 95% growth in the number of subscribers accessing this content year-over-year in September 2011, according to comScore. That works out to 21.2 million mobile users, 17% of whom accessed mobile retail sites almost daily. Twenty-eight percent did so at least once a week while 55% reported one to three times per month.

Change in Mobile Content Categories Accessed by US Mobile Subscribers, Sep 2011 (% change vs. same period of prior year)

Among those surveyed by comScore, the leading mobile retail activity was finding a store location, performed by 33%. Twenty-one percent compared product prices and 20% looked for coupons or deals. Smartphone users in a Hipcricket survey followed a similar pattern, but with higher involvement. Nearly half had researched prices on a retailer’s mobile site and more than a third had looked for coupons and promotions.

Retailers should not only be prepared to provide the content that mobile searchers seek, but also on the platforms they use. According to comScore, smartphone users in general favored browsers over apps (48% vs. 26%) with iPhone users being the most likely to use apps; only 4 percentage points separated browsers (40%) from app users (36%) among iPhone owners. To reach the broadest shopping base, retailers would be wise to offer both modes of access.

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