Mobile Shopping on the Rise, Despite Privacy Concerns

Among those who turn to mobile devices for additional product information while shopping, seven in 10 conduct a general Internet search, the CEA said.

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More than half (58 percent) of shoppers who use mobile devices prefer to look up information on their devices while shopping, rather than talk to store employees. This is especially true among men and shoppers aged 25-44, according to a Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) report.

At the same time, shoppers using smartphones and tablets indicated they are concerned about privacy (61 percent) and security (58 percent) when using their devices while shopping in-store.

"Quick and reliable access to product information, availability and comparisons are the driving forces behind this trend," Steve Koenig, director of industry analysis for CEA, told eWEEK. "Mobile is undoubtedly changing the way consumers shop, but also likely redefining the role of salespeople at retail."

Among those who turn to mobile devices for additional product information while shopping, seven in 10 conduct a general Internet search (69 percent) while around half visit a store-specific website (52 percent), use a store-specific app (47 percent) or a visit manufacturer-specific website (46 percent).

"Mobile payments are already beginning to reshape the shopping experience, but this will take time to become mainstream," Koenig said. "Security is paramount which is why we are moving to chip and PIN credit cards here in the USA--this has been in Europe for several years."

He noted consumers are also getting accustomed to digital wallets through payment apps like the one coffee chain Starbucks has rolled out, but he said services like Apple Pay will again take time to become mainstream.

Koenig compared mobile shopping to online banking, which has taken more than a decade to become routine.

The report also revealed that while shopping specifically for electronics, mobile shoppers use their devices to compare prices (63 percent), read customer ratings or reviews (52 percent) and search the Internet for more information (51 percent).

Overall, mobile shoppers most often use their mobile devices for assistance when shopping for electronics (60 percent) than any other product type.

Following electronics, mobile shoppers most frequently use their devices while shopping in physical retail stores for groceries (55 percent); apparel (47 percent); shoes (45 percent), and health and beauty products (39 percent).

While mobile shoppers indicated they prefer to consult their devices rather than interact with a human, the report also suggested they see a benefit to having a relationship with retailers, as 81 percent of mobile shoppers surveyed said they would be willing to share some form of personal data with retailers in exchange for benefits.

Current GPS location information (48 percent) is the most common type of data mobile shoppers were willing to share, followed by user profile information (46 percent) and personal contact information (40 percent).

"Finding a store or in-store navigation is most likely the benefit to sharing your current location. It could also be a way to alert a retailer you are there, such as for loyalty programs or special services," Koenig explained. "It could also be a way for a shopping app to know at which store you’re shopping. In the event an item is sold out the shopping app can recommend the closest store with inventory."