More Consumers Using Tablets to Shop

By John Gaudiosi ( - Thu, Jul 26, 2012

According to a new study by the E-Tailing Group, a shift is going on with how consumers are making purchases. The flood of smartphones and tablets that has taken over the market is changing the way people are buying things online.

A new online study commissioned by Local and conducted by the E-Tailing Group explored consumer preferences and their research and purchase plans on mobile devices by analyzing responses from more than 1,000 consumers.

The study found that consumers are taking multiple routes to online purchases and often using multiple devices. Brick-and-mortar retail stores still play a huge role in shopping with a physical store being important for 90% of shoppers. However, more consumers (60%) are using tablets and smartphones to research products before committing to that purchase at retail.

Nearly two-thirds of shoppers use at least one device to research and purchase while shopping, and over one-quarter utilize two devices simultaneously. Over one-third of respondents had made at least one purchase with their mobile devices during the past six months. The study found that tablet owners, perhaps because of the large display screen, were more likely to make purchases online. One-quarter of those surveyed had purchased things online six times or more in the past six months.

"With all the interaction points that cross devices, you no longer have a clear sense of where the consumer is in the purchase funnel," said Sherry Thomas-Zon, vice president of Local. "You don't know the exact information they access on the devices, though we can make an inference."

Mobile devices are opening up new ways to shop, even at physical retailers. Nearly half (47%) of consumers said they use their smartphone to search for local information, such as information about a local store they want to visit. Prior to the visit, they use smartphones to conduct further research, including comparing prices, checking for sales, previewing products and reading reviews. Forty-six percent of consumers look up prices on a store's mobile site, and 42% check inventory prior to shopping in the store.

There’s also a trend to making more purchases online across multiple devices. Thirty-six percent of consumers said they bought more on a laptop or a desktop this year compared with last, followed by 20% on a tablet and smartphone, and 14% in stores.