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    U.S. Lags Emerging Markets for Mobile Purchasing: PwC

    Physical stores still matter; expectations evolve

    U.S. retailers are racing to stay relevant in a rapidly changing shopping environment led by growth of e-commerce, the ubiquity of mobile devices, and the demanding expectations of consumers, according to PwC’s annual online shopper survey, "Total Retail: The Race for Relevance."

    Based on a survey of more than 23,000 online consumers globally, the report reveals the changing behaviors of consumers, driven by convenience, price, social media and brand trust.

    In the U.S., mobile is only a part of the purchase journey: PwC’s survey found that only 22 percent of American shoppers make a mobile purchase at least monthly, compared to 35 percent in emerging markets. Specifically in China, 66 percent of consumers say they shop online via their mobile at least once a month.

    Looking ahead, only 26 percent of U.S. shoppers say their mobile phones will become their main purchasing tool in the future. The reason why the U.S. lags other countries in mobile shopping adoption could be due to the fact that many emerging countries have leapfrogged past computers directly to mobile phones.

    Millennials lead the charge with mobile shopping

    Millennials shop via mobile more than any other group. As the generation enters its prime consumer years, 40 percent of Millennials in PwC’s survey said they buy products online monthly while close to 30 percent shop online weekly. Additionally, more than a third of Millennials agree that their smartphones will become their main purchasing tool in the future. Already more than 80 percent use their mobile devices while shopping in-store – versus 55 percent of shoppers over 35 – to access digital coupons, research products, check prices, and pay for purchases. The “I Want it Now” generation is also willing to pay more for next-day delivery, sometimes up to four times more, far higher than older shoppers.

    The physical store still matters but is evolving

    As retailers also work hard to get shoppers in the door, lifestyle shopping centers that combine entertainment, food and shopping are taking off, creating destinations for shoppers. Successful retailers are also investing heavily in their in-store technology as consumers demand a more exceptional in-store experience.

    When asked about the top three ways to make their in-store shopping experience better, shoppers chose: sales associates with deep product knowledge (40 percent), self-service checkout (33 percent) and ability to check other store or online stock quickly (32 percent). Malls are also evolving to make the in-store experience more like being online, using technology to beam out a message or a coupon as a consumer approaches or passes by the shopping center.

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