Are you really ready for the mobile consumer?

Google published some terrific and compelling metrics yesterday on the rapid shifts in consumer behaviours and how they use smartphones when shopping.

Google says that 71% of smartphone users search because of an ad they’ve seen either online or offline; 82% of smartphone users notice mobile ads, 74% of smartphone shoppers make a purchase as a result of using their smartphones to help with shopping, and 88% of those who look for local information on their smartphones take action within a day.

The metrics come from "The Mobile Movement: Understanding Smartphone Users," a study from Google and conducted by Ipsos OTX, an independent market research firm, among 5,013 US adult smartphone internet users at the end of 2010. While the data is about US consumers, I’m sure you can see the trends elsewhere.

Consider these two metrics, for instance:

General Smartphone Usage: Smartphones have become an integral part of users’ daily lives. Consumers use smartphones as an extension of their desktop computers and use it as they multi-task and consume other media.

  • 81% browse the Internet, 77% search, 68% use an app, and 48% watch videos on their smartphone
  • 72% use their smartphones while consuming other media, with a third while watching TV
  • 93% of smartphone owners use their smartphones while at home

Purchase-driven Shoppers: Smartphones have become an indispensable shopping tool and are used across channels and throughout the research and decision-making process.

  • 79% of smartphone consumers use their phones to help with shopping, from comparing prices, finding more product info to locating a retailer
  • 74% of smartphone shoppers make a purchase, whether online, in-store, or on their phones
  • 70% use their smartphones while in the store, reflecting varied purchase paths that often begin online or on their phones and brings consumers to the store

That last stat resonates strongly with me as that is exactly what I do almost every time I’m in a store – search for the product online, look for other deals and compare prices. Often, I buy something online (typically from Amazon UK using their Android app) while looking at the product in a shop.

Much of what Google is talking about also makes me think of the concepts, trends and experiences from companies that Bob Pearson describes in his book Pre-Commerce:

[...] We are entering the era of Pre-Commerce where customers make their own decision to buy or support a brand before the transaction. Pre-Commerce explains how the exploding use of social media channels has fundamentally changed the way customers go about making their purchasing decisions, how they educate themselves and why they choose to support certain brands above others.

While Google’s primary focus is on mobile advertising, their key conclusion is clear:

[...] Make sure you can be found via mobile search as consumers regularly use their phones to find and act on information. Incorporate location based products and services and make it easy for mobile customers to reach you because local information seeking is common among smartphone users.  Develop a comprehensive cross-channel strategy as mobile shoppers use their phones in-store, online and via mobile website and apps to research and make purchase decisions.

A prerequisite is ensuring your online presence – whether it’s a blog, a static website or a full-blown e-commerce experience – is ready for mobile so that when someone comes to you on a smartphone, they get content that works on that device, not the desktop website that is simply ridiculous on a smartphone and very much a "goodbye experience."

How ready are you?

(Google is running a webinar today at 11am PT, 7pm UK, during which they’ll present and discuss their research findings. Register and participate for free.)

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About Neville Hobson

Entrepreneurial business communicator with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Co-host of the weekly business podcast For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report. Also an occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Follow me on Twitter and Google+.