Online consumers prefer browsers to apps, tablet owners shop most for electronics [infographic]

by Doug Drinkwater

January 16 2012

Social media company Zmags' latest report into consumer spending finds that only 4% prefer to shop using mobile apps, with the vast majority preferring instead to shop on their desktop or laptop PC.

The study found that just 4% prefer to shop using mobile apps on their tablets or smartphones, with 87% preferring to buy from websites on their PCs or laptops instead. Zmags said that 14% prefer of mobile consumers prefer to shop via mobile websites on their smartphones, with this figure falling to 9% for doing the same tasks on a tablet.

Zmags' report also tackled tablet spending by category, and found that 53% of tablet-owning consumers shop for electronics on their tablet. After electronics, toy shoppers (39%) most embraced tablet shopping, followed by those shopping for clothing (37%) and travel (26%).

As already reported (see below), Zmags' report indicated that 87% of tablet owners used their device to do 2011 holiday shopping, with these users spending an average of $325 on their tablets.

Zmags' report is entitled “Meet the Connected Consumer: How Tablets, Smartphones and Facebook are Changing the Ways Consumers Shop” and is now available for download. A neat infographic on the spending can be found below.

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  • Doug
    2 years 10 months ago
    I agree with your point on the lack of viable mobile apps for commerce, so perhaps we'll do some analysis on online shopping in a feature piece in future.
  • bfrench
    2 years 10 months ago

    >>> The customer makes a decision (consciously or subconsciously) where to buy goods from. <<<

    Precisely my point -- _where_ they buy goods has little to do with _how_ they prefer to buy goods. The headline suggests they prefer to use browsers to buy stuff online instead of apps. Coming from a tablet mag, this seems misleading because it infers that they prefer mobile browsers over mobile apps. The facts show that they use browsers on non-mobile devices because there are so few mobile apps that can compete - ergo, they _must_ use browsers (mobile or otherwise) if they have any hope of shopping with precision and effectiveness.

    This is a data skew combined with a headline that doesn't really reflect consumer preferences. I assert that the implied preference is not a preference at all - it is an outcome based upon a computing climate that really stacks the deck (so to speak) against mobile apps.

    Perhaps TabTimes should consider a poll with a question such as "If there was a mobile app for online shopping that worked as well as a mobile or desktop browser - which would you prefer?" I have a hunch the data would be very different and you'd get closer to understanding actual user preferences as opposed to circumstantial outcomes.

    Just sayin' ...

  • Doug
    2 years 10 months ago
    I would have to disagree on the first point. It is a preference. The customer makes a decision (consciously or subconsciously) where to buy goods from.
  • bfrench
    2 years 10 months ago

    I'm surprised that you didn't dig a little deeper into the data. There are at least two clear biases in this report and the headline embraces this bias and skews reader perception. Let's start with the obvious -

    Customers "prefer" is inaccurate. The report details what customers do, not what they prefer. This is an important point of accuracy. In almost every survey, users (not customers) prefer native apps.

    This leads us right into the second bias - the availability of apps for consuming versus the options for web consumption. Conservatively, surveys I've read show that the touch-web is 9 to 20 times larger in terms of the ways that consumers can purchase goods and materials compared to consuming through native apps. This artifact alone skews what customers are _able_ to prefer. Since there are so few ways to shop pervasively in native apps, customers have no choice but to "prefer" web apps for consuming goods and services online. Ergo, customers don,t necessarily prefer web consumption - they really have few choices except to consume through web browsers for the most part.

    Systems like Siri will change this over time, but for now, the touch-web gets the nod but not because it's favored.

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