Today’s customers are curious and use their smartphones even when they buy in shops. From research to purchase to payment – the smartphone has become an integral part of most customer’s shopping experience. Natalie Bührmann explains, how customers make use of their smartphones during shopping.

Nearly every second German customer uses their smartphone when they are out shopping (according to this study by Uberall). But why do customers love to use their mobile devices so much, when it comes to their shopping? 5 scenarios why customers use their smartphones According to Google, there are five basic scenarios where customers tend to grab their smartphones:

  • A spark: The user has a sudden thought, often inspired by something they saw or read.
  • An urgent need: The user has a strong need (like hunger) that can be solved through research (e.g. food delivery or recipe pages).
  • In-store assistance: Customers look for more information or compare prices while they look through a store.
  • Micro-productivity: In times of waiting/boredom, users grab their phone to read an article, check mails or do other comparatively small tasks to spend their time.
  • Planning ahead: To be prepared for a holiday, a visit to a restaurant or a trip to the museum, people like to plan ahead, e.g. check the menu, look at directions or check opening times.

Smartphones become a crucial part of the customer journey

With today’s possibilities, customers research everything. According to the Uberall-study, 65% of the people surveyed research products during their shopping. 60% compare prices. 41% complete their purchase on the smartphone.

ROPO-customers are on the rise

Due to the fear of making the wrong choice, customers prefer thorough research which either results in „try before you buy„, which means that customers try the product in the store but might buy it somewhere else if it’s cheaper (also called „Showrooming“) or in „know before you go„, which means that customers will do their research online before they purchase a product in store.

The German MediaMarktSaturn Retail Group shows that this new-found need for information has not sped up the customer journey but on contrast lengthens it (PDF). If a customer shops 100% online, they spend five days on average to make a decision, while a customer who switches between online and offline channels might take nine days on average.

Online- vs. Offline-Shopping

ROPO-customers do their research online but prefer buying the product in store. They like communicating with service personnel but also like to be informed about alternatives and details. This, however, does not mean that customers don’t like to purchase online. 80% of all German customers buy online and offline (source: Bitkom) and switch from one to the other channel much more fluently. The smartphone can be seen as a digital „shopping center“ and is even more crucial for younger generations.

Mobile Payment

More and more shops offer mobile payment which means paying via smartphones. Even though many German customers can imagine a future without cash, the reality looks different. Only two of five smartphone owners pay with their mobile phone (and lag behind when it comes to the European average) (source: Bitkom). The reasons are numerous:

  • 61% are scared of being hacked
  • Many think that the processes are too complicated
  • Payment takes too long in comparison with other payment options
  • Shop personnel are not informed/trained enough
  • There are not enough shops that offer mobile payment

Katharina Barley, Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection, says: Customers will accept new payment methods online if they trust in these methods and if they are easily available. Bitkom suggest offering several (electronic) payment options at every Point of Sale. This helps reduce waiting times and generate more revenue (by attracting more customers).

Find out how you can implement and use Customer Journey Management in your company.

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Natalie Buehrmann_AutorenfotoNatalie Bührmann is a working student for the Corporate Communication team at ec4u. She is currently studying Communication and Media Management as a Master at Hochschule Karlsruhe in the fields Media Design, Content Management and Digital Media. 


Contact: Xing, LinkedIn