Study: Mobile purchases climbing rapidly

Mobile shopping may still have a long way to catch up to online shopping, but the gap is closing — quickly.

American adult consumers that reported mobile Internet activity in the past 30 days reached 52%, up roughly 50% in just four years, according to “Digital Payments in the U.S.: Consumer Usage, Wallets and P2P,” a report from Packaged Facts.

According to the data, banking-related mobile activity grew at faster rate (up an average of 16% annually). However, the fastest-growing category was purchase-related mobile activity, which was up an average of 28% annually. This suggests that mobile access is translating quickly to mobile commerce.

In 2017, more than a third (39%) of online purchasers reported making a mobile purchase, up from less than 20% of online purchasers in 2013. Similarly, banking and gathering information for shopping is climbing.

This trend underscores the importance of mobile checkout schemes that make the mobile purchase experience simple and seamless, and the need to smoothly integrate them into the mobile shopping experience, the study revealed.

While smartphone ownership was once the more exclusive domain of younger adults, it is now more evenly spread across all age groups — except for senior over age 75. Similarly, the age gap separating online purchasing behavior has narrowed over time, although online purchasing among 25-44 year-olds is at least 20% more likely than average.

On the downside, mobile-related behavior remains strongly differentiated by age. Trends over time suggest that usage barriers remain among older adults and that mobile purchasing among Millennials ages 18-24 is running counter to industry expectations. Adults age 25-44 are at least 40% more likely than average to have made a mobile purchase in 2017.

While this behavior was generally almost three time more prevalent in 2017 than in 2013, statement agreement among 18-24s relative to other age groups declined during this period, according to the report.

"The percentage of adults who prefer mobile Internet access over computer-based access has continued to grow," said David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts. "The question now becomes how can the payments industry better translate this uptick into broader consumer interest in making in-store mobile payments."