We live in a world quickly shifting to mobile devices. According to comScore, 50% of all time spent online is now through a tablet or smartphone, with consumers allocating 51% of their online shopping time to mobile devices.

So, how do you begin to tackle mobile if you’re a retail marketer? To help answer this question, Yahoo and Kenshoo partnered on a joint research project to delve into consumers’ multi-screen (PC, smartphone and tablet) shopping behaviours and what retailers must do to effectively meet consumer expectations.

Our surveys of both consumers and marketers uncovered four key trends:

1. Consumers are increasingly using all three screens as part of the purchase journey.

Smartphones and tablets haven’t replaced the PC –  consumer usage of mobile devices has increased total time spent online. Therefore, rather than look at mobile in isolation, retailers should instead focus on providing a seamless shopping experience across multiple devices. 88% of smartphone users and 82% of tablet users admit to going back to their PC to continue the shopping process.

Almost 99% of marketers surveyed agreed that having a paid search presence across each device impacted conversion activity, with 53% stating there is some influence and 46% agreeing there is strong correlation. The key point is that retailers need to understand how customers use each device in the journey and ensure they are using the right media mix (search, native, premium, audience targeting), across all screens, to provide a holistic experience that capitalises on each device’s strengths.

2. The mobile web – and mobile search in particular – is primarily used for researching purchases.

Mobile devices aren’t yet seen as mature enough by marketers for completing purchases. For example, 19% of marketers surveyed felt that consumers are simply not comfortable with making purchases on their smartphones.

This means that until retailers can instil more confidence in the mobile purchase process, consumers may do more retail searching than buying on the mobile web. Marketers do feel that the gap is closing, however, with a majority agreeing that consumers are either using mobile search slightly more (32%) or much more (51%) in their shopping research than a year ago. The consumer data confirmed that 75% of shoppers search on their tablets and smartphones for purchase-related information.

Even though there was an almost unanimous consensus on the cross-screen influence of paid search, many marketers still seem to treat each device in the same way. For example, only 15% of the respondents indicated that they customise paid search ad copywriting by device. Retailers need to ensure they are optimising by device and ensure campaigns both inform and drive purchases.

3. Shopping information accessed via the mobile web helps consumers validate their purchase decisions.

Mobile device use is becoming ubiquitous, irrespective of location. 92% of tablet owners and 84% of smartphone users said they access shopping related information at home, showing devices aren’t just used on the move.

About half of all consumers (56% of smartphone owners and 49% of tablet owners) report that using the mobile internet is great for validating and researching impulse purchases while in a shop, giving brands the opportunity to significantly influence consumers that are already very far down the purchase funnel. Additionally, 75% of mobile shoppers said they do more research at home after visiting a shop.

Usage in this combination of locations underlines the fact that you need to retarget campaigns across devices. Take advantage of solutions that help you identify in-market consumers across devices so you can provide a continuous shopping experience and close the sale.

4. Consumers expect more from mobile shopping experiences than most brands deliver.

The simple fact is that the consumer appetite for mobile shopping greatly eclipses the experiences currently offered by retailers. 50% of tablet users and 44% of those on smartphones are disappointed when companies don’t offer optimised sites. Moreover, 44% of tablet owners said they were less likely to revisit a brand’s site if it wasn’t optimised.

When asked the same question, marketers understand consumer frustration. 82% somewhat or strongly agreed that consumers would be disappointed if a site wasn’t optimised. However, less than half of marketers currently offer mobile-specific online experiences while some are not even planning to do this in 2014.

The data shows a clear disconnect. Consumer usage of mobile devices (especially smartphones) is growing exponentially while revenues lag behind. Retailers must prioritise the mobile optimised experience quickly or risk losing major market share to competitors.

So, what can be learnt from these findings?

Here are three key imperatives multi-screen marketers should focus on:

Understand and leverage device signals – Signals collected from searches, clicks, ad interactions and opt-in communications are all important indicators that must be put into context vis-a-vis the device used for the activity. Different business rules, messaging, and ad targeting are needed in order to optimally engage with these consumers.

Integrate multi-device marketing into a holistic marketing plan – Having a standalone mobile team is just not good enough anymore. Retailers should treat multi-device marketing as a layer on everything they do, with experts that advise channel teams on how to best approach each one from a multi-screen perspective.

Fulfil the expectations of consumers to develop compelling multi-device conversations – Consumers expect brands to engage with them appropriately based on the device they are using and become frustrated when advertisers miss the mark. Tailor your approach and campaigns to optimise the experience to the device while making it part of your multi-screen strategy.

To find out more about the mobile opportunity gap, download your copy of the report.

Kelly Wrather

Kelly Wrather


Kelly Wrather is the Senior Manager of Content Marketing at Kenshoo.