Google’s New Report: How People Shop With Their Phones

A recent report published by Google offers valuable insight into how consumers are shopping on their phones. The U.S.-focused report found that over half of consumers have used a shopping app in the last 30 days. It stresses the importance of marketers understanding the use habits of their shoppers – only then can a brand tailor its features and notification preferences to provide value and keep shoppers coming back. The report sheds light on the unique roles that both apps and mobile web play in a consumer’s shopping journey.

Mobile Web vs Apps

The first big take away from the study confirms that people are using their smartphones as multichannel tools, shopping online while they’re in store and blurring the lines between touch points. Phones are their shopping companions and they use them to do price comparisons, find discounts, and research what they’re planning to buy. There is a fairly equal distribution between people who used an app (54%) vs. a mobile website (64%) in the last 30 days, but the results show that each is used slightly differently.

Mobile web is used more when looking up store contact information, while consumers prefer the app in categories relating to loyalty, sharing, purchasing, or reviewing products. Consumers prefer mobile web for any competitive shopping activities such as price comparisons, browsing products, and reading reviews.

Whereas the web vs app debate used to be an either/or decision, this new research proves that there’s a use case for both. Mobile, both web and app, is an entrenched part of the shopping ecosystem.

Make Push Notifications Useful

One of the most useful functions for retailers on mobile is the ability to send push notifications and Google’s report found that people don’t mind push notifications if they are useful. The most valuable kind of notifications send shipping and delivery information or special offers. People are already using mobile to shop so they it love when there are incentives such as discounts or exclusivity. As much as a third of shoppers will re-engage with an app if discounts or exclusive offers are provided.

Interestingly, among the top rated attributes of people’s favourite apps are apps that have large amounts of new products to explore. If apps are favored vehicles for product exploration and discovery, a new kind of merchandizing can be developed to take advantage of the functionalities of smartphones, such as virtual reality, beacons, and barcode scanners.

Smartphones are Shopping Companions

If anything, the study reiterates just how normal it is for people to shop on their phones, and how much they rely on their phones as a bridge between the online and offline during the purchasing journey. This is consistent with Mobify’s findings that mobile growth and engagement are outpacing desktop. The proportion of mobile users surpassed desktop users in 2016 to reach 49%, while desktop fell to 39% (and tablet remained fairly consistent at 12%).

This year, Black Friday sales reached $1 billion on mobile. That figure, combined with Google’s new report, should be enough to convince any non-believer that having a customer-focused mobile commerce strategy for 2017 is this year’s resolution to next year’s success.

Read Google’s Full Report