Posted March 30, 2011 5:42 pm by with 0 comments

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While 89.7 percent of the U.S. population aged 18 to 64 have mobile phones, only 49.1 percent are using their phones to shop.

That fact comes from a recent study conducted by Arc Worldwide that was reported on by Reuters. They took a close look at the behaviors of 1,800 mobile shoppers and found that 80% of them fell into the “light” category leaving 20% on the heavy side.

Here’s the graphic from Reuters that explains it all.

Not surprisingly, the iPhone was the preferred phone for mobile shopping and the heaviest shoppers are younger people who tend to be “in the know.” It is surprising to see that men are the heaviest mobile shoppers. That could be because they don’t see shopping as a fun activity as many women do, so they just want to get what they need and be done with it.

What really surprised me is how low “looking for coupons” fell in the activity hierarchy.  So many surveys preach that people use mobile for deals, deals, deals, but it looks like solid information is more important.

To go along with that, the survey also states that 51% of shoppers are more likely to buy from a mobile-specific site but only 4.8% of retailers have them. That’s a huge gap that is going to have to change if retailers want to survive going forward.

Right now, it’s easy to say that a mobile version of a retail website is catering to that small 20% of heavy users, but this could be very chicken or the egg. Those light users might become heavy users if mobile shopping was a cleaner experience, like you get with a mobile-specific app.

Molly Garris, digital strategy manager at Arc Worldwide says,

“If these light mobile shoppers really start engaging and evolve into heavier mobile shoppers, that’s going to increase the mobile shopping population by 50 percent.”

Certainly, offering customers the option is not going to hurt sales, so really there’s no reason to not develop a mobile site. Except perhaps that doing so costs time and money and those are real concerns, especially for the small business owner.

If you’re in the retail business, does your company have a mobile version of your website for cell phone shoppers?  We’d like to hear about it.