New research by location-based marketing company xAd suggests mobile may be playing a much bigger role in in-store purchasing than first thought, according to responses from nearly 1,500 UK smartphone users

Drawing on responses by those claiming to have used their device for a purchase decision in the 30 days before the survey, its conclusions bolster the idea that the ability to research on mobile has a strong influence on how quickly users are ready to part with cash on the high street.

XAd reports that 38% of shoppers used their mobile device to research products from a physical store, and expected to buy within the hour. That’s two thirds as many as in 2013.

Furthermore, over half (56%) of consumers who used their smartphone in this way went on to make a purchase in-store, compared to a figure of 40% for those that ultimately converted online.

“Here and now research”

Over half of UK consumers now cite mobile as their primary platform to research purchases, and this opens up a huge opportunity for brands to engage with consumers in the “here and now”, says Theo Theodorou, xAd’s head of EMEA.

“The context around a consumer’s location – where they are and where they’ve been – is one of the strongest indicators of purchase intent in real time and provides brands with invaluable insight about how to engage consumers when they’re either on-the-go or using their device at home,” he explains.

As Theodorou points out, mobile isn’t exclusive to research out of the store. Nearly two thirds (64%) of mobile usage is at home, with two in five of those going on to purchase on smartphones or tablets.

Small devices spark big purchases

Interestingly, xAd found that while mobile-only purchases have grown steadily across all categories – especially for quick and frequent purchases in groceries and retail – one in ten consumers are using mobile to research big-ticket purchases, such as automotive vehicles.

Commenting on the findings, IAB UK’s COO Jon Mew welcomed the research as playing a vital role in industry education, citing mobile as “central” to many online and offline purchases.

“With usage growing and mobile advertising now accounting for 39% of all digital display it’s more important than ever that marketers can understand the value of mobile.”