LONDON/NEW YORK: Almost half (46%) of UK consumers now use mobile devices as their primary tool for purchase decisions while one-in-four (25%) use them as their exclusive research tool, a new survey has revealed.

With less than 20% of UK consumers knowing exactly what they're looking for, this creates a significant opportunity for brands to reach them and influence their purchases, argues the 2nd Annual UK Mobile Path-to-Purchase Study.

Based on responses from more than 2,000 UK smartphone and tablet users, the report – conducted by location ad platform xAd and technology research firm Telmetrics – suggests that left 80% "completely open to influence".

Most mobile activity happens at the beginning of consumers' path-to-purchase (56%), the report found, but mobile is just one part of their overall retail experience because almost one-third (31%) visit a physical store during their search.

"Our study confirms that mobile is a powerful part of today's consumer purchase process and underlines the growing opportunity for advertisers to reach this ready to buy audience," said Bill Dinan, president of Telmetrics.

"Advertisers that capture mobile metrics can improve their understanding of how shoppers interact with mobile devices throughout the buying cycle and empower their ad programmes to reach consumers when they are most open to influence."

The report went on to identify price, store proximity and easy access to contact information as the three most important influencers, or purchase drivers.

Three out of four UK consumers use their mobile devices for price comparison while 39% make purchases because the price is right.

Over 50% of respondents also expect to find a store within eight kilometres of their current location while 40% make a phone call to the store they research.

And in a sign of how much more important speed of purchase has become for consumers, nearly 50% want to make their purchase within a day (up 20% since 2013) while 30% want to make a purchase within the hour (up 52% since 2013).

"As the mobile user experience continues to improve, consumers are turning to the convenience of their mobile devices more frequently, whether they're at home or on the go," said Monica Ho, SVP of marketing at xAd.

"Mobile users turn to their devices at multiple points while considering a purchase and often rely on it as their exclusive source for information," she said, adding that this creates a significant opportunity for brands.

Data sourced from xAd, Telmetics; additional content by Warc staff