Smartphone owners a 'threat' to retailers

13 January 2010

NEW YORK: US consumers are using their iPhones, BlackBerrys and Android phones for in-store research, according to new data from Compete.

A survey from the researchers, covering the third quarter of 2009, suggested that 52% of smartphone owners use their handsets to check product descriptions, that 36% check rival retailers' prices when deciding whether or not to buy a product, and that 34% used "m-commerce" channels to make purchases.

Commenting on the Compete report, Jeffrey Grau, senior analyst at eMarketer, said rising use of phones to check rivals' prices represented "both a threat and an opportunity" for retailers.

Users of Google's Android smartphone are thought to be spending the most via m-commerce, with 11% telling Compete they would consider making purchases of $500 or more with their phones, compared to 9% of iPhone owners and 2% of BlackBerry owners.

Meanwhile, 51% of BlackBerry owners, 40% of Android owners and 28% of iPhone owners are open to making purchases of $10 or less.

Recent figures from Deloitte also indicated that around one in six (15%) of all US mobile users purchased goods and services through their phones from time to time during 2009.

This year, US m-commerce is likely to grow further as consumers continue to migrate from in-store to online shopping.

Grau added: "A retailer's best defense for maintaining customer loyalty is to develop a mobile offering that allows in-store shoppers access to customer reviews and other product information on its website.

"By providing mobile access to their extensive online product information, they help customers feel more comfortable about making a purchase."

Data sourced from eMarketer; additional content by Warc staff