Mobile shopping growth slow as in-store refuses to go away

Mobile initiatives may be a top priority for many merchants, but new research indicates that growh in m-commerce is slowing with shoppers claiming a preference for the in-store experience.

The most recent research comes from TimeTrade's "The State of Retail 2015" report. The study surveyed 1,029 consumers about their perceptions and behaviors regarding retail shopping. The survey found that the in-store experience is still very relevant for most customers.

Of those shoppers surveyed, 87 percent said they plan to shop in stores at least as often as they did last year. Even more, 65 percent said that if a particular item they're looking for is available both online and at a store nearby, they'd prefer to buy it in person.

That choice comes from the fact that the vast majority of shoppers (85 percent) still like being able to touch products with their own hands before making a purchase. It works out well for retailers, too, since 82 percent of customers said they tend to buy more than they planned when they go to a brick-and-mortar store.

On the other hand, mobile purchases continue to grow slowly. More than 42 percent of those surveyed by TimeTrade said they had never bought an item on a mobile device, and 13 percent said they don't intend to in the near future.

"This is where we see a paradigm shift in retail. Though e-tail channels are still popular, we are seeing retailers placing a renewed value on the physical, in-store experience," the report read. "Even traditional e-tailers such as Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) are opening up brick-and-mortar stores in hopes of providing a more personalized experience. And, congruently, consumers are admitting that in terms of their shopping habits, they prefer the in-store experience so they can feel and touch items and most importantly, make final purchase decisions."

But this doesn't mean retailers should throw in the towel on mobile initiatives, only that mobile isn't going to make much headway trying to steal turf from brick-and-mortar stores. Rather, the two can thrive together. Half of customers still use mobile devices to research products before going to a store, 60 percent use devices to compare prices and 46 percent use them to search for nearby locations.

TimeTrade identified a change in shopper behavior—now retailers need to shift mobile programs' objectives from driving consumers to hit the buy button on their phone to, instead, getting them into stores to complete a purchase.

Some app developers have already gotten ahead of the game. Retale was built from the ground up with the goal of helping retailers leverage mobile strategy for foot traffic, based on this realization about the modern role of mobile retail.

"People thought mobile was going to be a natural extension of e-commerce—but the ecosystem has realized that it is much more," Retale President Pat Dermody said of the way mobile has evolved. "It's a browsing, shopping and research tool."

For more:
-See this TimeTrade report

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Walmart debuts new mobile initiatives
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Google, Target data shows mobile search ads drive in-store sales
Mobile growth slower than expected as retailers fail to impress

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