November 10, 2011, 12:00 PM

One in four U.K. consumers uses a smartphone while shopping, study finds

Half of those consumers go to retail web sites, and many shop the competition.

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24% of U.K. consumers have used a smartphone to access web sites while shopping, according to a new study. 59% of these consumers have accessed e-mail, 50% retail web sites and 48% social media sites, says the survey of 2,000 U.K. consumers from eDigitalResearch and IMRG, an online retail association.

Of consumers who have accessed a retail site while shopping, 62% while in a store have gone to the mobile site of a competitor. Of these, 71% say they did so to check if they could get a product cheaper elsewhere. Another 14% say they went to the competitor’s site to read customer reviews.

40% of U.K. consumers using a smartphone while shopping ultimately made a purchase in-store, online or via mobile, the study finds.

“Mobile is increasingly becoming the cement between stores and web sites,” says Derek Eccleston, research director at eDigitalResearch.

The results of the survey also highlight the growing use of QR codes by retailers to enhance shopping. A QR code is a form of 2-D bar code that links the physical world, such as a code on a product or a sign, to the mobile realm, such as a site with customer reviews or videos. 55% of U.K. consumers have seen a QR code while shopping, but only 46% of those consumers know how to use the codes. However, 33% of shoppers who have seen a QR code have scanned one.

“The results of this research further reinforce our expectation that this could be the first truly mobile Christmas for retailers,” says David J Smith, chief marketing and communications officer at IMRG. “The development of a multichannel strategy is becoming absolutely crucial for consumer engagement, as demonstrated by consumer willingness to shop around at alternative retailers even within another retailer’s store.”

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