The way smartphone users decide to buy online

Over the course of last 125 years, we humans have invented a number of wonder devices that serve us at our beck and call making our life easier and smarter. But no other device can match the extent to which the smartphone has embedded itself in our life and subconscious mind. In fact, our favourite device has long since discarded its utilitarian identity of being just a mobile phone that allows us to talk to others.
The smartphones have now become such a critical external appendage that users feel incomplete and lost whenever their device is not within their reach. Given that the smartphones play a key role in connecting device owners to the whole wide world, it is logical for the commercial microcosm to hail the device as its new poster boy. But we need to examine the smartphone user’s buying behaviour before we extrapolate it as the only transactional tool for online purchase.The present scenario: A recent study has revealed that over 90% of consumers now use their mobile devices for making impulsive purchase decisions on categories such as fashion, travel, music and movies. The same study also says that 36 % consumers place a higher weightage on researched decision-making on products and services like insurance and investments for which they still rely on their PC or laptops. But this trend does not tell us which device consumers rely on more for buying, and which ones they check products frequently on, before taking the final plunge.
Till 2015, global trends suggested that a greater percentage of online purchase traffic was driven by the PC. Conversely, around the same time Google had reported that search queries generated from India via mobile had superseded that of the desktop searches. However, we have to wait and see how Indian consumers who are now using their mobiles for performing search; eventually do their buying. For high unit cost categories like Cars or Housing it can be safely said that consumers do a ground research online. But a further in-depth research and actual purchase definitely happens offline with physical visits to the market.In another report titled ‘How India ordered food online in 2015’ it was estimated that close to 85% users had placed food orders on their mobile phones and a total of over 1 million orders were placed online through Zomato. This once again demonstrates user preference for mobile in a category that thrives on consumer impulse.So, it seems that the product category of intended/impulsive purchase matters when it comes to buying online, whether it be via app or through the website.