New global research reveals that US shoppers are among the world’s leaders in using mobile devices during trips to bricks-and-mortar retail outlets. But in-store mobile payments still account for just 2% of all US transactions – a level dramatically lower than China and other mobile-forward regions.
GfK shared the new findings, from its 2016 FutureBuy® report on digital and in-person shopping trends, at the recent Electronic Transaction Association’s Strategic Leadership Forum.
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When asked where they last used a smartphone or tablet to help them shop, 37% of US shoppers answered “in a store” – one of the highest levels among the 20 countries measured. The United Kingdom recorded the most in-store use of a mobile device (40% of shoppers), with Canada and India also scoring higher than the US. The comparable figure for China was 30%.
But only 2% of US shoppers reported actually making a payment with a mobile device in a store – much lower than China’s 24%, and beaten even by the UK’s 3%.
Among the most common reasons US shoppers use mobile devices (in stores or elsewhere) are to compare prices (reported by 25%), search for product information (19%), read online reviews (17%), and check availability of an item (14%).
Levels of concern and skepticism about mobile payments rose in the US over the past year. Over four in ten (42%) US shoppers now agree that “mobile payments are more of a gimmick today than a major part of how I pay”; this represents a jump of 5 percentage points (from 37%) compared to FutureBuy’s 2015 study.
In addition, over half (55%) of US shoppers say “I am worried about my personal information when using a mobile payment app” – up from 52% in 2015. (Note: This paragraph corrected from earlier version)
US and European shoppers also displayed low levels of enthusiasm for mobile payments expansion. While two-thirds (65%) of those in Latin America said they “look forward to being able to pay for more and more transactions from my mobile device,” only one-quarter (26%) of US shoppers felt that way. The world average was 41%, with Europe also coming in substantially lower (at 28%), while Asia Pacific was slightly higher (51%).
“The opportunity to change US consumer behavior and improve the customer experience through mobile shopping and purchasing is dramatically clear,” said Tim Spenny, Senior Vice President on GfK’s Financial Services team. “Consumers here feel comfortable using their smartphones and tablets to shop and price compare, learn about products, check availability and read reviews. But lingering security concerns – mostly unfounded – and the lack of a clear, consumer-centric value proposition are hindering adoption and usage of in-store mobile payments in the US.
“A clear security communication effort coupled with a compelling app or wallet design,” Spenny said, “would help mobile payments become more of a mainstream behavior among US shoppers. The benefits to merchants -- in terms of efficiency, loyalty, and additional consumer data – would be huge.”
GfK’s annual FutureBuy study measures the shifting interactions of digital and in-person activities in the shopper experience, tracking essential trends such as “showrooming” and “webrooming.” In 2016, FutureBuy covers 25 countries and 16 major product categories, from beauty and personal care products to major appliances to healthcare services. Ideal for sales, category, and brand managers, as well as strategic planners, FutureBuy insights are available in off-the-shelf country reports, custom reports, and through the GfK Connect portal.
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