Unwrap the consumer shopping journey

November 2016

Christmas is nearly here, bringing with it the year’s most important shopping period. With mobile commerce (mCommerce) almost doubling annually, smartphones are set to make a huge contribution to sales this holiday season, so it’s critical that retailers understand the mobile path to purchase as fully as possible.

Recent research shows that customer journeys involving mobile tend to be longer than their desktop-only equivalents, with more than twice as many touchpoints between brand and consumer, and that shoppers who use mobile devices are also more likely to research and purchase in store. To dig deeper into what these insights mean for businesses and to help them prepare for the seasonal sales opportunity, we’ve put together some additional research into the mobile path to purchase across four key product categories: Clothing & Footwear, Home Furnishings, Laptops and Skincare.

The study looked at the basic moments of the purchase journey: when consumers first become aware of an apparent need; when they begin scoping suitable brands and products; when they hone in on the features and criteria that matter to them most; and when they choose the right deal, vendor and purchase method.

Clothing and Footwear is a category driven by impulse shopping, with 45% of the mobile shoppers surveyed saying that they made an on-the-spot decision . Shoppers in this category rely on their mobiles, with 44% of respondents saying that they research mainly on their smartphone, and a huge 47% of those mobile researchers saying that they watch video on their device about the products they buy. Convenience was cited as the big advantage of mobile commerce, with 59% saying that they made purchases on their smartphone for this reason. However, when consumers did go into stores, 27% said that they did so as a result of the research they’d done on their device.

Shoppers in-market for a Laptop are more likely to use their smartphones for research than shoppers in-market for the other product categories in our study. 84% of consumers surveyed said they were undecided about the kind of laptop they wanted, leading to a level of research usage higher than for any of the other product categories. With most activity in this area focused at the top of the purchase funnel, where consumers are scoping out brands and products, there is a huge opportunity for retailers to utilise search to influence thinking in the decision-making process. In the study, nearly 3 in 5 shoppers who discovered their laptop in store said they reached that store via search. This highlights the importance of laptop retailers to be present in search results and to showcase their products via Shopping ads or Local Inventory Ads.

For Home Furnishing shoppers, the early ‘what’s out there’ phase is crucial, with 80% spending time research in this phase and 40% using smartphones here. Smartphones drove 33% of all online product discovery in this category, with 47% of those who researched on smartphone doing so while out shopping for the product. In this respect, search is particularly supportive of in-store product discovery, with roughly half of home furnishing shoppers who discovered a product in-store using a search engine to find the store in the first place.

In the Skincare category, 40% of respondents used their smartphones for product research. The mobile purchase rate for the category is 6% in the UK, ranking among the highest in Europe, with Germany and France coming in at just 2% in comparison. As with the other categories in the study, mobile drove a significant percentage of all online product discovery, with 38% of those who found a product online using their smartphone to do so. Likewise, mobile discovery is also popular with in-store shoppers, as 34% of those surveyed said they used their smartphone to research while shopping on the high street.

Mobile devices have transformed the way consumers explore products and research their most important purchases. With the busiest retail period of the year soon upon us, businesses that help customers discover the products they need, find the specific items they want, and then purchase seamlessly on their chosen device, will be well placed to win these mobile moments.

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