While countless retailer apps and mobile websites are designed specifically to deliver an "omnichannel" experience -- tracking a customer through the lifecycle of a purchase -- retailers are missing out on opportunities to engage customers through in-store technologies, says a new report by EKN Research.
A survey of more than 60 large retailers found just 13% of retailers are offering in-store features for mobile apps indicating a significant gap in leveraging the use of smartphones or mobile devices for customer engagement.
In terms of providing the infrastructure for ubiquitous connectivity, only 1 in 5 retailers currently offer free in-store wi-fi, with 42% of retailers having no intention of ever offering free wi-fi in stores.
Mobile technologies may offer new opportunities for customers but many retailers are not willing to make the investment. The report finds that IT spending on store technologies will remain relatively flat in the next three years, representing 31% of the total IT budget in 2013. Though the share is expected to increase to 35% by 2016.
"In 2013, increasing store operations efficiency remains retailers’ top goal from investments in store technologies. Running an efficient store should be table stakes for mature retailers, and their top goal should focus more directly on improving customer engagement. EKN views this as evidence that the focus hasn’t yet shifted for a majority of the retailers."
This news comes on the heels of a recent comScore report that found consumers are open to communications from retailers on their mobile devices with 47% of shoppers willing to have a retailer to send a coupon to their smartphone when they are in-store or nearby.
And previous data suggest a majority of mobile users are accessing retailers' websites for in-store sales or customer service functions.
We'll be exploring the current pulse of retailers and in-store marketing technologies at our upcoming Place Conference this October in San Francisco.
The IAB released a global mobile advertising report for 2012 this morning. It reflects ad share by region and ad format. The IAB sizes the global mobile advertising market at $8.9 billion (€6.9 billion) in 2012.
The North American mobile advertising market was worth $3.5 billion in 2012. It lagged just behind APAC and should overtake that region this year.
The following are the values of the other global-regional markets:
Mobile paid search (read: Google) is the dominant form of mobile advertising on a global basis and in most individual regional markets according to the IAB:
With the possible exception of Latin America, with its more limited smartphone penetration, SMS-based advertising is shrinking around the globe.
Despite mobile paid-search's global dominance, search and mobile display are seeing comparable growth rates:
Google is clearly one of the beneficiaries of these trends but so will be Facebook, Twitter and a few ad networks. Fewer than 10 companies are in a position to control three-fourths of the global-mobile ad marketing in 2013.
Yesterday Kantar Worldpanel ComTech reported that the iPhone has gained on Android in the US market. The firm said the relative market shares of Android, iPhone and Windows Phones are now as follows:
The iPhone is the bestselling individual smartphone in the US, though not across the globe.
Kantar asserts that its survey data are more accurate than other sources because it operates "the largest continuous consumer research mobile phone panel of its kind in the world, conducting more than 240,000 interviews per year in the U.S. alone."
For comparison purposes comScore reports the following (May, 2013) smartphone market share in the US:
Comscore shows Android and the iPhone gaining in the US and all other operating systems losing share vs. last quarter.
While the iPhone may have gained in the US that trend does not appear to be global. Kantar reports that Android's share is now nearly 70% in Europe and even higher in China.
The mobile payments space is a little like the local market: lots of promise, lots of money but very hard to crack. Yesterday a young entrepreneur and his payments startup Clinkle received a $25 million vote of confidence from a group of celebrity investors.
This was reported to be the "largest seed round ever." Whether it is or not $25 million is a lot of money for yet another mobile payments app. While it's true that nobody in mobile payments has "broken through," Clinkle will have a tough slog as it tries to build both merchant adoption and consumer usage.
Once again it's the "cold start" or "chicken and egg" problem.
However, according to the NY Times, there's no merchant hardware requirement for Clinkle and the go to market strategy involves a Facebook-like focus on college campuses and surrounding businesses. That may be a key decision and help the startup gain some quasi-critical mass in selected markets among students.
Beyond the hardware issues surrounding NFC adoption, the central issue with mobile payments has been a lack of perceived need among consumers. Mobile payments are being used in selected contexts and commerce situations (e.g., Starbucks) but the public at large hasn't seen the need to replace plastic payment with app-based payment that relies on stored credit cards or bank accounts.
That brings me to indoor location and marketing. When discussing these topics, and the absence of technology standards, I often use mobile payments as an analogy. Yet there is a critical distinction. The difference between the two segments is that while mobile payments still largely requires a shift in consumer behavior, indoor marketing does not.
Large majorities of consumers are already using their smartphones in stores to look for price information, product reviews and coupons. The idea of brands and retailers communicating with them in stores will be built on this existing behavioral foundation. Accordingly indoor marketing won't require consumers to adopt new technology or approaches to shopping -- unlike mobile payments.
The "heavy lifting" in indoor marketing is on the merchant side, where WiFi or other sensor infrastructure needs to be in place. Fortunately in most major retail environments the rudimentary infrastructure already exists.
But don't take my word for it. We'll be discussing the competing indoor location technologies and hardware requirements for indoor marketing (as well as their accuracy) at Place: The Indoor Marketing Summit this fall in San Francisco. It will be an event anyone in the mobile or location-based marketing space won't want to miss.
BlackBerry posted a "suprise loss" (based on analyst forecasts) in fiscal Q1 of $84 million. The company announced that it had shipped 6.8 million smartphones. However of those only 2.7 million were BlackBerry 10 handsets (Z10 and Q10).
The much-touted Z10 all-touchscreen phone seems to be a complete flop. The more "traditional" Q10, with its hardware keyboard, may wind up being more successful; it has only been on the market a few months.
These phones, it now seems clear, won't save the company. And BlackBerry is becoming increasingly marginalized in the smartphone and tablet world -- even in the enterprise it's traditional stronghold.
In terms of tablets BlackBerry said that it shipped 100,000 Playbooks in the quarter. BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins has dismissed tablets as mere fashion. He doesn't think the devices will exist in five years. While the iPad may not reign forever tablets will continue to exist certainly. Heins is mistaken.
The Playbook won't be getting an OS update and is effectively dead in the water. In North America it delivers less than 1% of overall tablet traffic, according to ad network Chitika. The chart above reflects the "tier 2" tablets that lag the iPad, Kindle and Galaxy in terms of web traffic. (The iPad delivers 82% of North American tablet traffic.)
Gartner's global OS projection for 2014 shows BlackBerry having an almost non-existent market share.
Source: Gartner (6/13)
The hard question to answer now is "what next?" The transition-turnaround story clearly won't play to investors anymore. The stock is off 27% following the earnings releas.
Selling the company or taking it private are two options. But who would buy it? (Certainly BlackBerry would be acquired at the "right price.") Microsoft has flirted with the idea but it probably wouldn't serve Redmond because BlackBerry hardware isn't prized in the market and would be unlikely to advance Windows Phones.
Another "nuclear" option would be to start putting out BlackBerry Android-powered phones. However that would turn the company into a commodity provider of Android handsets without any meaningful differentiation. That was what Nokia was concerned about (although Nokia would have had more success with Android.) And it would be almost impossible to compete with Samsung globally.
The company is almost out of options.
Nokia paid for product placement in the wildly popular Dark Knight films and released a special Batman-themed Lumia 900 when The Dark Knight Rises was released. The short answer: no, it didn't really "work."
Nokia Windows Phones (Lumia 925) also appear several times in the also extremely popular Man of Steel. Apparently in the alternate reality of Metropolis Nokia-made Windows Phones are the only smartphones in existence. However even the Man of Steel with all his remarkable alien abilities and strength probably won't do much for Lumia handset sales.
The Superman film is opening in China this week and Nokia is offering a Chinese "Superman Limited Edition" Lumia 925 with the "hope" (S) insignia on the back. Depending on how excited the Chinese are by Man of Steel there may be some sales lift. However the Chinese market is dominated by Android devices.
Meanwhile over in the Marvel universe (Superman is a DC Comics character), Iron Man's Robert Downey Jr. is reportedly being paid $12 million in a two-year deal to promote HTC smartphones. It doesn't look like the Iron Man character is part of the deal or will appear in the ads.
Downey is a recognizable and popular celebrity but he probably isn't powerful enough -- at least without the Iron Man suit -- to compete with Samsung's Galaxy juggernaut (The Avengers might collectively have a shot at defeating it). The Korean company spent over $400 million in 2012 to achieve and maintain its Android smartphone lead. That compares with HTC's $46 million and Nokia's almost non-existent $13 million.
If you're not already aware, Google is compelling all AdWords advertisers to adopt Enhanced Campaigns by July 22. It's mandatory. And it signals big changes for Google and for search marketing in general. Google dominates paid-search, which is the biggest single chunk of online advertising.
The high-level shifts brough about by Enhanced Campaigns, if you don't already know, are the following:
Google's rationale is simple: simplification. Google told us a few months ago that it wanted to make cross-platform campaigns easier to execute and easier to manage. But that means marketers give up some amount of control over bidding and can no longer implement mobile-only campaigns.
There are many people who accept and agree with that justification. However there's a much more cynical view circulating in parallel, which is that Google is mostly trying to boost mobile CPCs and thus overall mobile revenues -- to compensate for declining desktop CPCs in some cases.
Increase in CPCs for tablet and mobile campaigns on Google
Like all such competing explanations, the truth lies somewhere in-between.
Historically mobile and tablet CPCs were lower and thus a better value for marketers. Now Adobe's digital marketing arm is saying that will definitely change under the new Enhanced Campaigns regime. Adobe based these remarks on "the latest search marketing and cost-per-click (CPC) trends across nearly 100 major US advertisers representing more than $100 million in ad spend from March through May 2013."
The data come from the clients of the former Efficient Frontier, which Adobe acquired in late 2011 for roughly $400 million.
As the graphs above reflect, mobile CPCs have already begun to rise for advertisers implementing Enhanced Campaigns, while desktop CPCs are stabilizing. According to Adobe:
With the introduction of Enhanced Campaigns, the historically lower CPCs for tablet campaigns should increase to reflect desktop CPCs. We’re only just beginning to see this trend materialize . . . The overall CPC trends across all devices including desktops also show strong growth. Google CPCs increased more than 6% over the last three months alone — a significant jump . . .
One other trend we noticed is that CPCs on Google have stabilized. For the past two years, Google CPCs fell on a year-over-year (YoY) basis due to the increase in mobile and tablet traffic where CPCs were lower. However, for the first time in seven quarters, the CPCs on Google are flat YoY and we anticipate that CPCs will rise on a YoY basis again starting next quarter . . .
Seeking to rebut the perception that the company has successfully manipulated the system to boost its own revenues, Google disputes the assertion that rising prices are inevitable. The company told Search Engine Land earlier this week:
There have been many speculative reports, but it's far too early for any of them to be reliable. Advertisers will choose their bids and adjust their spend based on the value they see in their campaigns.
By now you've no doubt read about the comScore data that showed (or argued) just over half (54%) of PC display ads are never seen by users. The finding turns the old Wanamaker "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted . . ." quote on its head: digital advertising is just as "wasteful" (if not more) than traditional advertising.
Last year, using the same "viewability" methodology, comScore reported that "31% of ads were not in-view, meaning they never had an opportunity to be seen." So the problem is apparently getting worse.
The IAB said that display ads (not counting video) in 2012 represented 21% of the $36.6 billion in US online ad spending. They contributed $7.6 billion at least to the overall pie. If half of that is wasted because ads cannot be seen or are never served it means $3.3 billion is being flushed down the digital toilet, so to speak.
Comparing the impact of PC vs. mobile display advertising across key brand metrics
Source: Dynamic Logic
Enter mobile advertising. I've argued multiple times in the past that mobile is a superior "branding" medium to online for various reasons, not the least of which is improved performance metrics over PC-based digital ads (see graphic above). The chief problem is that most of mobile display features weak ad creative, compromising the potential efficacy of the ads.
To counter this the IAB is releasing a mobile creative "manifesto" of sorts that hopes to instruct brands and agencies about the importance and hallmarks of effective mobile ad creative: A Mobile Manifesto: Creative Leaders on the Art of Successful Mobile Brand Messaging. It features hypothetical examples of best and worst practices.
Here are the broad strokes of the report's recommendations:
Many of these recommendations are merely "common sense." However even now many mobile display ad campaigns are perfunctory at best with converted or automated ad creative from PC campaigns. Thus marketers and brands are missing out on the true potential of mobile advertising by not making a "sincere" effort to maximize the value of mobile campaigns.
A new study jointly conducted by Millward Brown and mobile loyalty platform SessionM finds that consumers want a clear "value exchange" or "tangible benefits" for their time and attention to mobile ads. The study was fielded earlier this year among two survey groups of 500 US adults and combined with qualitative follow-up interviews.
A primary finding of the study, which echoes Nielsen "consumer trust" data from previous research, is that only 9% of users have a favorable view of mobile ads. Despite their typically superior performance on brand and other KPIs, consumers generally report unfavorable views of mobile advertising in surveys such as the SessionM-Millward Brown study:
The study argues that mobile ads need to deliver "tangible value" in order to gain consumer engagement. When they do they can outperform other types of digital and mobile advertising. SessionM says that tangible value has three components: "being useful, entertaining and worth the time it takes to engage."
What this means as a practical matter, according to the study, is offering a literal reward for consumer attention (e.g., coupons, points), although people respond to other types of "incentives" as well as ads that are more "relevant" (e.g., local, personalized).
The following were the preferred reward types according to the survey:
Essentially people are saying they want to be paid to look at and engage with mobile ads. It's important to note that the study argues in favor of the types of advertising and marketing that SessionM provides: incentive and reward-based mobile loyalty programs. However other data show that consumers do respond to coupons and discounts at higher rates than other categories of mobile advertising.
In April Harris Interactive conducted an online consumer survey about "showrooming" and related consumer attitudes about online and offline buying. The survey had 2,114 respondents, 824 of whom said they had showroomed: "ever visited a brick and mortar store to examine a product before purchasing it elsewhere online."
Accordingly 39% of the April 2013 survey population had engaged in showrooming at some point. That's actually down from 43% in November 2012 according to Harris.
Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target are the three major US retailers that are most often "victimized" by showrooming, though the order is different for men and women. This compares to a study (tracking actual store visits) with slightly different results, conducted in February by Placed:
According to the Harris study Amazon is by far the most-used online comparison point for in-store smartphone shoppers. A relatively small percentage also or alternatively consult eBay.
Harris also found that price-matching strategies being adopted by retailers are likely to succeed in combatting showrooming. A large majority of those who said they had "showroomed" also said this policy would make them more likely to buy in stores:
Source: Harris Interactive (4/13)
Survey respondents simultaneously indicated they like the option to "buy online and pick up in store." In terms of same-day delivery from an e-commerce provider, however, a majority (77%) said they would NOT be willing to pay more for the service. For those willing to pay the majority (56%) said between $1 and $5 was a tolerable range.
The survey also affirmed many of the familiar reasons that people prefer to shop locally vs. online:
Being able to "talk with a salesperson" in stores was only valued by 57% of survey respondents. Indeed, a majority (60%) strongly agreed that they "would rather use [a] smartphone to search for information about a product than ask a salesperson for help."
I suspect the latter finding is a result of years of experiences with low-paid and generally poorly trained salespeople in retail stores.
Last year, according to the IAB, mobile ad revenues came in just under $3.4 billion in the US. On a global basis eMarketer (aggregating a range of third party data) estimates that mobile advertising was worth $8.8 billion. Of that Google was responsible for a staggering 52%.
In 2013 eMarketer argues that Google's share of global mobile advertising will continue to grow to 56%.
Impressively or shockingly, nearly 66% of global mobile ad revenue in 2012 was concentrated in the top five companies according to eMarketer. In 2013 that figure is expected to exceed 75%.
The eMarketer forecast is that this year mobile advertising will be worth nearly $16 billion worldwide. In other words, roughly $12 billion of the world's mobile ad revenue will be concentrated in the top five US-based companies -- and most of that at Google.
By comparison, the top 10 PC-based online advertising companies in the US control 72% of the revenue, while the top 50 control nearly 90%.
The eMarketer numbers may well be off. For example their YP figures are incorrect and underestimate the company's mobile revenues for 2012. However directionally the numbers are accurate and indicate the "concentration of mobile weath" in a small number of companies -- as well as the dominance of Google as the world's largest mobile ad company. (In terms of total digital advertising globally, Google controls 33%.)
Facebook is really the only other player currently in a position to challenge Google for mobile ad revenue and reach.
According to telephone survey data (n=2,252) released this morning by The Pew Internet & Life Project, 34% of US adults now own tablets. What that means as a practical matter is: 81 million adults. There may also be 20 million more people in the US under 18 who own tablets. (Our house has four.)
I think it's relatively safe to say that if the number of tablets in the US isn't yet 100 million it's extremely close.
A large majority of tablet owners are substituting tablets for PC usage in many instances and either buying fewer PCs overall or delaying PC replacement for a much longer period. This morning Apple will open its developer conference. A upgraded iPad/Mini is not expected to be among the announcements but it's possible.
As with other device categories, the story is largely the same with tablets. Penetration rates are higher among college educated (49%) and more affluent adults (56%). Affluent means at least $75,000 in income.
The chart above reflects the growth of tablets since 2010 when only 3% reported tablet ownership. It's possible that by Q4 of 2014 half of the US adult population will have tablets (and 75% of affluents).
Global tablet shipments this year are expected to exceed those of laptop computers according to IDC. IDC also argues most of those sales will be at the lower end of the market (size, price).
Last week both Pew and Nielsen reported that 61% of mobile subscribers now own smartphones.
More than three out of five (61%) mobile subscribers in the U.S. owned a smartphone during the most recent three-month period (March-May 2013), up more than 10 percent since smartphones became the mobile majority in early 2012.
Comscore, for its part, says that the percentage of mobile users with smartphones is slightly less: 58%. Overall we're talking about 140 - 150 million people in the US now with smartphones.
In terms of OS market share, Nielsen reports that Android has 53% of the US smartphone market, while Apple controls 40%.
A new report by comScore shows how mobile and social channels are changing online buying habits and how retailers can benefit in delivering a blend of choices for consumers including mobile coupons.
The study, Pulse of the Online Shopper , notes a variety of flexible options for consumers – 46 percent said they are less likely to comparison shop when using a retailer's mobile app and 44% want the ability to buy online and pick up their purchases in a stores.
Of particular note, consumers are open to communications from retailers on their mobile devices with 47% of shoppers willing to have a retailer to send a coupon to their smartphone when they are in-store or nearby. This trend underscores the potential role of indoor marketing technologies.
Regarding mobile channels, the report states:
Mobile is quickly becoming the preferred e-commerce channel as 7 out of 10 online consumers access multi-channel retailers through a digital channel. Of those mobile shoppers, 30% prefer to use a smartphone or tablet. Also, 50% of online shoppers who own a smartphone and nearly 60% who own a tablet make purchases on these devices.
More than 3,000 U.S. consumers were surveyed on their online shopping habits and the report was commissioned by UPS. A copy of the executive summary and white paper can be downloaded here.
No one should ever bet against Microsoft. But amid a flurry of new Android based "convertables" and tablets (some of which were announced today), Windows is facing a tougher fight than ever. Only the enterprise and Office stand between the company and a dire-looking market.
PC sales are off and it doesn't appear they'll turn around soon. Yet, Microsoft is hoping that its 8.1 Windows update fixes many of the problems and complaints with Windows 8, which have contributed to disappointing sales. Microsoft, with its many billions in quarterly revenues, is clearly the ironic underdog in the new world of mobile computing.
Redmond got a bit of good news from WPP research subsidiary Kantar Worldpanel ComTech earlier today. The firm found that Windows Phones had gained nearly 2 points since a year ago (however comScore data show much smaller gains). It's not clear, however, whether the needle is really moving for Microsoft given that Windows Phones generate less than 2% of all mobile OS based web traffic in the US.
Source: Kantar Worldpanel
The company's Surface tablets have also been a disappointment thus far. RT starts at $499 and Pro starts at $899. Both are going to need to come down by at least $200 before most consumers will consider them.
ASUS today said it was releasing a 7-inch tablet for $149 (outside the US there will be a 8GB version for the equivalent of $129). ASUS is the maker of the popular Nexus 7. Over time a large percentage of tablet sales will be concentrated in the 7-inch to 8-inch range and those tablets will almost without exception -- the exception being the iPad -- be priced below $200.
Regardless of how full featured Surface tablets are price is a major driver of purchase behavior.
Accordingly, in response to declining tablet prices and sluggish sales, Microsoft is going to lower its software licensing fees to enable hardware OEMs to bring down prices of their Windows devices. But it may not be enough to boost sales. In addition the absence of a native version Office on the iPad or Android hasn't boosted Surface either.
One interesting question to ask is whether Microsoft's past success has mostly relied on its ubiquity and near-monopoly status as an operating system (together with Office). If there's even a shred of truth in that question it's a serious problem because once people are no longer "compelled" to buy Windows machines a substantial number of them won't.
The following slide, presented as part of venture capitalist Mary Meeker's semi-annual internet trends report, is very surprising and revealing:
Location-based mobile ad network Verve Mobile released a "State of the Market: Location Powered Mobile Advertising" report this morning. It focuses on the fast-food and casual dining restaurant category and offers several case studies that show the lift provided by location targeting.
Here are a few datapoints from the report:
Below is the distribution of location/audience targeting methodologies employed by Verve's customer-advertisers:
Content management software company Kentico recently conducted a mobile-shopping survey (n=300 US adults). The sample size is small and so the results must be viewed cautiously. However there were a few interesting findings.
Among them, the survey found that 85% of smartphone owners do comparison shopping (products, prices). However "only" 45% do so in stores. A recent report from Nielsen, xAd and Telmetrics argued that only 6% of mobile users "showroomed." Interestingly, most of the Kentico survey respondents (63%) said they would rather buy locally, in a physical store vs. online.
In terms of the mobile user/mobile commerce experience, as might be expected, the usability of websites was a major variable:
Whether or not an online shopper clicks ‘buy’ isn’t solely dependent on products or pricing: 78% of smartphone owners, 75% of tablet owners and 69% of laptop owners say it also comes down to the look and feel of a company’s mobile website . . . Word of mouth (28%), company websites (25%) and in-store experience (18%) weighed most heavily on strengthening or eroding brand affinity.
These respondents felt that PCs and laptops provided a better online shopping experience overall than tablets or smartphones.
Which device provide the best shopping experiences?:
A significant minority (44%) of users said that they would never return to websites that featured bad user experiences (not optimized for mobile). This is not a surprise and echoed by other findings already in the market.
Online marketing firm Monetate puts out a quarterly report, like an increasing number of digital marketing firms today. Using customer data, its "EQ1" (2013) report offers a range of metrics, including e-commerce conversions by channel/platform and average order value. It also breaks out traffic by device category and browser.
This report like others shows that iOS devices are generating a great deal more web traffic than their Android counterparts, which is mysterious given Android's market share dominance. In addition Monetate now shows roughly equal distribution between tablet and smartphone-generated traffic.
According to the chart below smartphone and tablet traffic has roughly doubled since Q1 2012. Tablets are now driving slightly more web traffic to Monetate customers than smartphones. Over all "mobile" traffic is 21%.
Despite Android's market-share lead the iPhone is responsible for almost two-thirds of smartphone-based traffic to Monetate-client websites. In the tablet arena Monetate says that just under 90% of traffic is coming from the iPad, with Android tablets (including Kindle Fire) generating just under 11%.
One of the more interesting charts shows browser market share. What we can observe from the data in the chart below are the following:
Location-based and WiFi ad network JiWire is out with its Q1 insights report. The document contains a range of information drawn from surveys of mobile users who access the internet at mostly JiWire-powered WiFi hotspots. This quarter the company zeroes in on behavior in the travel vertical and examines multi-screen activity and cross-platform conversions accordingly.
We know that travel is a very mobile-centric vertical with lots of apps for smartphones and tablets. And JiWire confirms extensive multi-device usage for travel research and purchases:
Next comes a fascinating chart showing the multi-screen purchase process in travel (a microcosm of consumer behavior more generally). Google documented this phenomenon previously in research showing that 90% of consumers move “sequentially” between different screens throughout the same day.
Below is the JiWire chart showing how consumers start on one device and often convert on another:
The latest installment of "Mobile Path to Purchase" research from Nielsen, xAd and Telmetrics drills down into retail-shopping attitudes and behaviors. As with the broader study, previously released, the findings show a significant percentage of users are doing shopping research exclusively on mobile devices.
The Mobile Path to Purchase study is in its second year. The findings are based on an online survey of 2,000 US smartphone and tablet owners and “observed consumer behaviors from Nielsen’s Smartphone Analytics Panel of 6,000 Apple and Android users.”
According to the report, 42% of smartphone and tablet owners did not consult PCs at all as part of their retail shopping research. The broader study found the overall number to be 46%, who didn't use PCs. This is a staggering data point in my opinion.
Source: Nielsen, xAd, Telmetrics Mobile Path to Purchase study 2013
If we extrapolate these "mobile only" numbers, assuming they're representative, we're talking about a potential audience of perhaps 54 million in the US who may be relying primarily or exclusively on smartphones and tablets to shop.
Other noteworthy findings from the study include:
The retail report also seeks to debunk a couple of "myths" about mobile usage. The first is that smartphones are used predominantly "on the go" and/or near the point-of-sale. The study found that smartphones were used throughout the pre-purchase research process and that the largest percentage of use was in fact "at the start" of shopping rather than near the end.
Source: Nielsen, xAd, Telmetrics Mobile Path to Purchase study 2013
The second "myth" debunked (though not quite as easily) is the notion that most smartphone owners are "showrooming" whenever they shop. The report says that showrooming (in-store price-comparison shopping) is relatively rare and practiced by a very small minority of users:
Only 6 percent of smartphone users conducted their most recent mobile retail search in-store . . . Mobile shoppers are in fact using their devices for comparison-shopping before and after an in-store visit.
However previous survey findings from the Pew Internet Project and Google argue that significant numbers of smartphone owners do compare prices while in stores. For example, Pew's research found that 72% of smartphone owners used their devices while in retail stores. And the more recent Google-sponsored study reported the top in-store smartphone activities were the following:
What the Nielsen-xAd-Telmetrics data argue is that most of this type of activity occurs before or after someone goes into a store. It may be that the wording of the questions influenced these results, though it may not be possible to entirely reconcile the conflicting findings. Regardless, the more important point is that smartphones and tablets are heavily used by consumers as part of their shopping research.
Accordingly, retailers that are not aggressively addressing the mobile audience are completely missing huge numbers of people and potential sales.