February 17, 2011, 11:37 AM

Holiday shoppers with smartphones search, and research—and buy

Of the 59% who used their devices to shop, 41% made a purchase, Google says.

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Google searches conducted on mobile phones centering on shopping-related keywords grew more than 300% from January 2010 to January 2011, Google Inc. reports in a new study on holiday shopping. They grew more than 150% from January 2009 to January 2010.

Google mobile shopping searches on the Black Fridays of recent years grew substantially. (Black Friday is the heavy shopping day after Thanksgiving.) From Black Friday 2008 to Black Friday 2009 they grew more than 150%, Google reports, and more than 200% from 2009 to 2010.

Google followed up the holiday season with a new survey of U.S. consumers who routinely use smartphones and it came up with some big numbers. 59% of smartphone owners used their devices for holiday shopping activities. Of those consumers, 80% used their smartphones to research products and shop in stores. And of the 59% of smartphone owners using their phones to shop, 41% made a purchase, the Google survey finds. Put another way, 24.2% of all consumers who routinely use smartphones bought a product through an m-commerce site or mobile app.

Smartphone owners who made a purchase during the holidays bought a wide variety of products, Google says. 22% purchased electronics, 17% apparel, 17% toys, 16% gift cards, 15% books or magazines, 12% fashion accessories, 11% beauty and cosmetic items, 10% watches, 9% sporting or fitness goods, 9% home appliances, 8% jewelry, 8% pet supplies, and 7% home furnishings.

When it comes to shopping activities, smartphone-toting consumers used their handsets in many ways. Google finds that 27% used their smartphones to compare prices, 23% to read customer reviews, 21% to read general product information, 21% to locate a store, 20% to find promotions or coupons, 16% to check in-store availability of an item, 14% to scan a bar code, and 10% to watch a product video.

Google says in the report that during the holiday shopping season of 2010, “mobile emerged as a holiday shopping assistant and purchase channel.”

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