Smartphone access to the usual suspects in mobile services such as travel, dining and movies is still on an uptick, but the growth of online shopping was gargantuan last year, new research shows. Online retail experienced the largest growth in all mobile categories this year compared with 2010, experiencing a 95-percent spurt in the number of subscribers accessing retail sites.
That works out to 21.2 million mobile users, according to comScore, 17 percent of whom accessed mobile retail sites almost daily. Nearly a third (28 percent) did so at least once a week, while 55 percent reported accessing retail sites from one-to-three times a month.
Other high-growth categories for smartphone access included classified ads (82 percent), auction sites (77 percent) and shopping guides (74 percent, eMarketer reported).
The leading mobile retail activity was finding a store location, performed by 33 percent of those surveyed by comScore, followed by product-price comparison (21 percent) and 20 percent searching for coupons or deals.
A similar survey of smartphone users by Hipcricket, a mobile marketing and advertising company, followed a similar pattern, but with a higher level of active engagement. Nearly half had researched prices on a retailer's mobile site and more than a third had looked for coupons and promotions.
Retailers should be prepared not only to provide the content that mobile searchers seek, but also the platforms they use. According to comScore, smartphone users in general favored browsers over apps (48 percent vs. 26 percent), with iPhone users being the most likely to use apps; only 4 percentage points separated browsers (40 percent) from app users (36 percent) among iPhone owners. Savvy retailers would be wise to offer both modes of access to reach the broadest shopping base, eMarketer recommended.