Smartphones Are (Still) for Shopping, Not Buying

Holiday shoppers are more likely to use phones as shopping aids while out and about

When it comes to shopping, smartphones are the constant, handy companion, ready to assist consumers and answer questions on the go. Tablets, meanwhile, despite the typical “mobile” categorization, bring out more lean-back behaviors in shoppers, who use them to browse on the couch, not for showrooming.

An October 2015 survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF) about how mobile users plan to include their devices in holiday shopping plans bears this pattern out.

On tablets, the No. 1 activity will be researching products and comparing prices, and nearly half of US tablet owners surveyed planned to do this. The second-most-common activity was actually purchasing products on the devices, which 34.5% of respondents planned to do. Looking up retailer information came in third, followed by checking stores to see whether products were in stock.

The top activity was the same on smartphones: 37.9% of US smartphone owners said they would use their mobile phone to research products and compare prices, the typical showrooming behavior. But No. 2 was looking up retailer information—a common desire for on-the-go shoppers.

The third-most-common smartphone holiday shopping activity was redeeming coupons, which was lower on the list for tablet users. And actually making a mobile purchase came in fourth among smartphone owners: Just 21.4% planned to do it.


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