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86 Million Americans Use a Smartphone to Shop

comScore released the results from the latest market study of U.S. mobile smartphone user shopping behavior, which found that 4 in every 5 people -- 85.9 million in total -- accessed retailer related content on their device in July, 2012.

Amazon Sites led as the top retailer with an audience of 49.6 million visitors, while multi-channel retailers including Apple (17.7 million visitors), Wal-Mart (16.3 million visitors), Target (10 million visitors) and Best Buy (7.2 million visitors) also attracted significant mobile audiences.

"With nearly 86 million Americans now shopping on their smartphones, this pronounced shift in consumer behavior is simply too large for retailers to ignore, with the future of their business depending on how well they adapt to the new environment," said Mark Donovan, comScore SVP of mobile research.

comScore says that adapting to today's online retail environment requires optimizing the experience across multiple platforms -- for both mobile websites and apps. Moreover, retailers that understand how people are engaging in mobile shopping behaviors are designing better user experiences.

As an example, Ticketmaster attracted 5.7 million visitors as summer concerts and performances saw fans turn to their smartphones for tickets and information, while seasonal home improvements fueled visitation to the Home Depot (4.4 million visitors) and competitor Lowes (3.2 million visitors).

As mobile becomes an increasingly important channel for retailers to reach current and potential customers, other companies are recognizing the opportunity smartphones present throughout the shopping process.

Shopkick, a shopping rewards app that provides points for consumers who visit retail partners’ physical stores, saw its mobile audience reach more than 4 million visitors in July -- demonstrating one way consumers are turning to their mobile devices as part of their in-store shopping experience.

Among both iPhone and Android users, Amazon ranked as the top retailer attaining a reach of 43 percent among iPhone users and 55 percent among Android users, with visitation to the Amazon Appstore largely accounting for the higher reach among Android users.

Analysis of smartphone shoppers versus those visiting on desktop or laptop computers revealed new insights into audience demographics. Across both smartphones and desktop computers, males and females represented nearly equal proportions of retail category visitors.

However, females accounted for a higher share of time spent on retail destinations at 53.4 percent of minutes on desktop computers and an even greater share of retail minutes on smartphones at 56.1 percent.

Smartphone shoppers were also more likely to be younger than their desktop counterparts -- with 70.7 percent of smartphone retail visitors under the age of 45 compared to 61.1 percent of desktop users. Engagement among these audiences showed even greater disparity with visitors under the age of 45 accounting for nearly 3 in every 4 minutes spent on retail content via smartphones -- compared to 61.6 percent of retail minutes on desktop computers.

Smartphone retail audiences were more likely to reside in higher income households compared to desktop computer users, likely as a result of smartphone ownership skewing towards higher income segments compared to an average consumer.

Among smartphone audiences accessing retail destinations, nearly 1 in every 3 had a household income of $100,000 or greater, with this income segment driving a comparable 31.2 percent of minutes spent on retail sites and apps.

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