Customers spending more time "M-shopping" for their retail needs

6th May 2015

Digital technology is revolutionising the way customers interact with retail businesses, but a failure to keep up by some companies means they are at risk being left behind.

New research has found retailers who have some form of mobile shopping technology were experiencing a major boost in sales. Customers are increasingly using their smartphones to shop, and retailers that did not adapt to this change could be left behind.

Two researchers from Northwestern University published a study exploring changes in customers' spending patterns caused by "M-shopping", or the use of smartphones and tablets to place orders for grocery online.

They collected from an internet-only retail grocer between 2011 and 2013 and discovered a series of new online consumer shopping behaviours.

Although they found 70 percent of transactions with the grocer were still conducted via personal computer during this period, those customers that used a mobile device spent more time shopping for groceries. One conclusion was that people were composing their shopping list on the PC and later ordering via the mobile device.

The research also found customers who were considered low spenders in a particular shop were found to start placing larger orders after using mobile retail technology.

Overall, customers who increased their mobile device shopping for items they purchased more frequently - like milk, pet food and cereal - or from those retailers they were already familiar with.

The small screen sizes of smartphones discouraged some people from trying and ordering brands they were unfamiliar with. The authors of the study thought for this reason firms should focus on other channels when launching new products, to familiarise customers with them before they shop for it on a mobile device.

Retailers can still be a lot more savvy about making it easier for online customers to reach them. Having a form of online retail management accounting software is one way businesses can reach people looking to shop via the internet.