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Smartphone commerce - A smart idea?

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Despite the increasing sophistication of retailers consumers remain reluctant to purchase with their smartphones  
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Smartphone users reluctant to buy online

Are people using their smartphones more to shop?

The most popular use of smartphones is as a price scanner rather than a purchasing tool. People go into different shops along a high street and record offers on products they like, storing them up for comparison later at home. Generally, the actual purchases are made in person at the shop or online using a desktop computer. Less than a quarter of respondents to our Digital Selves study said they would be comfortable using their phones to buy goods, although this percentage may rise considerably in the next decade.

Why don't people use their phones to purchase more, it is so convenient?

Although online shopping is growing exponentially, precisely because it is so convenient, purchasing via smartphones involves a different psychology. Consumers still think of the fixed line PC as secure, the more “untethered” the device, the more resistant they are to using it for sensitive activities. Only 11% of PC users hesitated to part with money, fill in their personal details and purchase goods online whereas the figure for mobile phone users was 37%.

There are a number of new smartphone payment apps - are they likely to catch on?

Buying online generally is hugely popular but has not actually grown as much as retailers initially hoped. There is a hesitation among consumers to use the internet for this reason because of concerns about products getting lost in transit, making errors while going through the purchasing steps, the online payment mechanism and how to return goods if they are faulty. All these are exacerbated with mobile phones. While 21% of respondents said they would be comfortable using their phones to buy, only 8% actually did. However, there is one glimmer of hope for online retailers: smartphone users represent the biggest growth area in the market and they are significantly more open to using their devices to buy than general mobile subscribers.

Do different age groups think differently about privacy implications of using smartphones?

Where fixed line internet connections are involved , the level of concern about security is fairly constant across all age groups. This indicates that, as the oldest form of technology in everyday use, we are all equally comfortable with it, not least because we know that we can protect our data by downloading the many forms of security software.

As the internet connection becomes 'untethered' – such as a smartphone or tablet – security concerns begin to rise. Again, this can be seen across all age groups but it is the older generation who tend to feel most uneasy.

So, as a general rule, privacy and security concerns rise with age. However, there is one glaring exception: 18 to 24 year-olds are more preoccupied with security across wireless and mobiles than 25 to 44 year-olds. We think this is because they are more aware of the risks but our next major research project, Digital Futures, will provide definitive answers.

For further reading on this subject please see this article from BT about Smartphone shopping: http://www.insight.bt.com/en/features/smartphone-shopping


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