April 30, 2013, 5:05 PM

4G wireless networks will accelerate mobile commerce

One-third of U.K. smartphone owners will buy more with 4G speed, a survey finds.

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34% of U.K. smartphone owners will “very likely” or “likely” purchase more products from their mobile devices if they access 4G wireless networking technology, which is significantly faster than the more common 3G, finds a survey of 2,000 U.K. online shoppers from eDigitalResearch and U.K. e-retail association Interactive Media in Retail Group.

39% of smartphone owners have already used their mobile devices to make purchases, a number that is likely to increase with the introduction of more 4G networks later in the year, eDigitalResearch and IMRG say.

While adoption of 4G technology in the U.K. remains relatively low—just 14% of smartphones have 4G capabilities, the survey finds—4G users on average are much more engaged with mobile technology than their 3G smartphone owner counterparts, the survey says.

77% of 4G users have accessed the Internet from their 4G-enabled devices while shopping, compared to 53% of 3G smartphone owners, the survey says. 62% of 4G users have used a bar code scanner to see if they could get a product cheaper elsewhere, compared to just 20% of 3G smartphone owners.

With the imminent release of more 4G services across the U.K., the survey results signal to retailers the importance of strengthening their mobile strategy, from a well-rounded mobile commerce site to an interactive store experience, eDigitalResearch and IMRG say.

“The introduction of 4G technology looks set to have a considerable impact on retail markets,” says Derek Eccleston, commercial director at eDigitalResearch. “With faster Internet speeds and a better all-round browsing experience, more and more shoppers are likely to turn to their 4G-enabled devices to help them through their multichannel purchase journey, whether that’s to read customer reviews, check product descriptions or compare prices. While the thought of this might scare some, brands need to embrace this next step of the mobile revolution and ensure that their entire end-to-end customer journey across all channels is set for more mobile.”

Of those survey respondents who have 4G technology and have used it, 43% report a substantial difference to their Internet browsing experience claiming it was “considerably faster,” while 39% say they find it “faster.”

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