The boom in smartphone use has been illustrated by a survey showing that almost three quarters of UK consumers own one of the devices.
The figure of 72% is up from 58% just 10 months ago and means retailers must sit up and take notice of the rate if growth, according to business advisory firm, Deloitte which conducted the research.
It found that more than half of people have used a smartphone to check product availability and buy goods.
The love affair with the device is particularly prevalent amongst ‘Generation Y,’ with nearly 90% of consumers aged 25-34 now have a smartphone.
This group is often considered the most affluent and influential and therefore, retailers must align their channels to meet the demands of these technology-savvy shoppers, Deloitte says.
Deloitte’s research highlights the growing prevalence of apps in supporting mobile payments and customer experience.
However, there is a generational gap when it comes to consumer engagement. ‘Generation Z’ (aged 16-24) are the strongest advocates with 48% choosing to shop via apps, compared to only 14% of those aged 45-64.
Apps can deliver both personalised and location-based content. However, Deloitte’s Consumer Review found that only 21% of UK consumers are currently happy to receive tailored communications.
Despite perceived security and privacy risks, 40% welcome search results that are relevant to their location.
Altough still being in its infancy, mobile payment is rapidly becoming more popular with UK consumers. It is perceived to be convenient and another reason for them to use their smartphone.
Nearly one third (31%) has used an online wallet and 12% contactless technology to pay for their goods. As consumers are becoming more familiar with mobile payment technology, so their confidence in it increases.
Deloitte head of UK retail Ian Geddes said: “The exponential rise in UK consumer’s reliance on smartphones means mobile must become a priority for retailers.
“Customer experience, brand loyalty and ultimately sales will all increasingly stem from the mobile channel. This is the year that mobile moves from a project run by the IT department to a strategic priority in the boardroom.”
He added: “Personalisation can really build brand loyalty but retailers must carefully consider their approach.
“Push marketing can be seen as intrusive and consumers can sometimes feel bombarded. Retailers must find the balance. However, those who do will reap the benefits of a loyal customer.”
Head of consumer business research Ben Perkins said: “There is no doubt that mobile is rapidly redefining the way consumers and brands interact even more than the internet did.
“Consumers are expecting convenience, simplicity and security in exchange for their loyalty. It is only by embracing mobile’s full potential with the right strategy that a consumer facing business can compete in a mobile-centric world.”