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Study: Mobile Technology Use Among Shoppers Rises As Retail Habits Change


Consumer financial services company Synchrony Financial has released findings from its 2015 Digital Study that further confirm the importance of a comprehensive mobile strategy for retailers to effectively engage shoppers and enhance the customer experience.

The survey, conducted in March and April with nearly 7,000 Synchrony Bank cardholders and random shoppers nationwide, gathered insights on how customers view mobile technology for shopping and what they expect in their mobile retail experience. Key findings of the third annual study include:

  • Nearly 50 percent of survey respondents are now shopping using a mobile device.
  • Nearly one-third are purchasing a product after seeing it on social media.
  • Approximately one-third of survey respondents indicate that text offers would drive an incremental shopping visit.
  • Value propositions, including free shipping, loyalty programs and personalized offers, continue to be important.

SynchronyChartBResults show that the use of mobile technology by shoppers continues to climb, with adoption growing among key segments of the population—45 percent of all respondents said they used a mobile device to perform a shopping-related task (researching, sharing, purchasing and reviewing) in 2015, up 4 percent from 2014, and 9 percent from 2013.

As mobile usage increases among all shoppers and across all devices, retail habits are changing. Mobile device usage for purchases is steadily increasing—18 percent of respondents now report using a mobile device to make a purchase, up from 16 percent in 2014 and 12 percent in 2013.

Social media continues to be an important channel for retailers to drive sales and engage with customers. With 85 percent of consumers accessing social media and 45 percent following brands via social media channels, social media is important to driving engagement. Thirty percent of all age groups report purchasing a product after seeing it on social media and the numbers are higher for younger shoppers—52 percent of Millennials and 42 percent of Gen Xers.

Holders of Synchrony Bank retail credit cards are more digitally-enabled than other shoppers and increasingly using mobile functionality for mobile credit card applications (+114 percent growth over 2014), mobile service logins (+58 percent) and mobile payments (+72 percent). Cardholders also have more access to mobile technology, making them particularly important to a retailer’s overall marketing strategy. The study shows:

  • 85 percent of retail cardholders own a smartphone vs. 69 percent of random national sample.
  • 69 percent of retail cardholders own a tablet vs. 45 percent of random national sample.
  • 64 percent of retail cardholders own a smartphone and tablet vs. 37 percent of random national sample.

“It’s clear from our research that shoppers across every segment are becoming more mobile-enabled and savvy, using all digital resources available to them to shop and purchase in and out of the store,” said Toni White, chief marketing officer at Synchrony Financial. “Retailers who focus on creating an integrated customer experience across all channels can differentiate themselves.”

Tips for retailers to engage digital customers start with satisfying the needs of omni-channel shoppers for a simple and easy experience and a website that is optimized regardless of the device a customer is using. In addition to responsive design, factors influencing shopper interest and loyalty include: enhanced wish lists; drag-and-drop clipboards; and custom alerts, signaling a sale or availability of their favorite item. These steps can provide immediate and personalized offers that reward shoppers for their loyalty.

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