October 24, 2013, 1:48 PM

Mobile devices will play a big role in 2013 holiday shopping

Smartphones and tablets will enable a wide variety of activities, Deloitte finds.

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A sizable majority of mobile device owners, who make up the majority of online consumers, will use their smartphones and tablets while shopping this holiday season—most to research, many to buy, finds the 28th annual holiday shopping survey from research and consulting giant Deloitte LLP, which has more closely tracked the growth of mobile commerce in recent years.

61% of 5,018 U.S. online consumers surveyed by Deloitte own a smartphone, and 68% of smartphone owners will use their phones for holiday shopping. 38% of online consumers own a tablet, and 63% of tablet owners will use their device for holiday shopping, the survey says. Smartphone owners mostly use their devices to research, with only 31% saying they will buy merchandise on their phones. Tablet owners also perform quite a bit of research but most will also make a purchase, as 52% say they will buy on their tablet during the holidays.

While shopping during the 2013 holidays, smartphone owners, Deloitte finds, will engage in many mobile activities:

  • 56% will use a store locator.
  • 54% will compare prices.
  • 47% will obtain product information.
  • 45% will shop online.
  • 44% will read customer reviews.
  • 40% will check product availability in-store and/or online.
  • 36% will search for and use coupons and discounts.
  • 32% will scan a bar code to obtain more information.
  • 31% will make a purchase.
  • 29% will access social networks.
  • 24% will sign up for retailers' text messages for information and deals.

 While shopping during the holidays, tablet owners, Deloitte says, also will engage in many mobile activities:

  • 69% will shop online.
  • 58% will compare prices.
  • 58% will obtain product information.
  • 57% will read customer reviews.
  • 52% will make a purchase.
  • 47% will check product availability in-store and online.
  • 44% will use a store locator.
  • 30% will access a social network.
  • 30% will search for and use coupons and discounts.

Deloitte also asked consumers with mobile devices how mobile technology will impact their in-store shopping decisions during the holidays. 22% of mobile device owners say they are more likely to buy in-store from a retailer with roaming, device-toting sales associates who offer mobile checkout, and 14% say the same about retailers that offer Wi-Fi access, the survey finds.

17% of mobile device owners say they will use a retailer's app in-store for self-help, and 13% are interested in using their devices to make mobile payments, Deloitte finds.

The 2013 holiday shopping season is shaping up to be the most mobile holiday shopping season yet. This past summer, mobile devices became the predominant way U.S. consumers interact with online retail. 55% of all time spent with e-retail in June 2013 occurred on a smartphone or tablet while 45% occurred on a desktop or laptop, web and mobile measurement firm comScore Inc. finds.

On average, 55% of mobile commerce sales occur on tablets while 45% stem from smartphones, according to data from 43 retailers that broke out their mobile sales figures by device for the new 2014 Internet Retailer Mobile 500. These 43 retailers will bring in $991 million in mobile sales in 2013—$544 million from tablets and $447 million from smartphones, the Mobile 500 finds. The 500 retailers ranked in the guide by their mobile sales will rack up $30.5 billion in mobile sales in 2013.

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