Kirsty Wynn

Kirsty Wynn is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Mobiles fuel i-shopping boom

Fickle consumers with mobile devices changing the face of shopping.

Chris Henderson helps make school lunch easier to organise. Photo / Doug Sherring
Chris Henderson helps make school lunch easier to organise. Photo / Doug Sherring

With the swipe of a screen we browse, skim the news, tweet, buy music and compare products.

But buy shoes? No thanks.

In the past six months, mobile device use has skyrocketed with three out of four New Zealanders owning a smartphone and half with a tablet.

The way we connect with others, get information, browse and buy is changing - and businesses are being warned to keep up.

A recent Colmar Brunton survey of 500 New Zealanders over 18 years found more people are using their mobile device to shop, but we are a fickle bunch.

Hard-to-use apps are quickly deleted and we are selective about those we download.

Colmar Brunton chief executive officer Jacqueline Ireland said to keep customers businesses needed a well-designed and attractive app that made life easier and when possible, maintain a walk-in store.

"Mobile device ownership is so high it is starting to dominate behaviour," Ireland said.

"Tablets especially are being used more for shopping but people still like to go and try on things like shoes where the fit is key."

She said companies needed to make visiting the store a fantastic and unique experience that couldn't be had online.

The online experience had to be convenient and attractive.

Most people only downloaded apps from stores or providers they were already familiar with and ease of navigation topped the "most important" list for smartphone and tablet apps.

"There has been a high level of rejection of apps.

"Fifteen per cent of users refuse to use an app. People are selective because there is an app for everything," Ireland said.

Personal computers still had their place as people used them for more detailed investigations and more complicated internet banking, she added.

Checking email still dominated mobile device use and was almost equally spread between the smartphone (80 per cent) and tablet (78 per cent).

Slightly more people read the news on their tablet (69 per cent), over the smartphone (61 per cent). Fewer people were reading the news on their tablet compared to last year's figures.

As well, the number of people over 18 playing games on their smartphone was also in decline, dropping from 53 per cent last year to 44 per cent this year.

However, more people were picking up their tablet to play - up from 51 per cent last year to 65 per cent this year.

The survey found although people liked browsing and comparing products on their tablet, only 48 per cent followed through with a purchase.

Mobile showrooming was also on the increase. Three in five people checked prices on a mobile device then bought on their home computer or in store as a result.

Lunchtime appy ever after

Ordering school lunch typically involves forms, envelopes and hunting for that elusive $3.50 - but now the EZLunch mobile app has been launched.

The system allows parents to select and pay for their child's lunch online, and for it to be delivered to school that day.

Sandwich franchise Pita Pit is one of 19 lunch providers using the app, designed by Sandra Finlay of The Growth Collective.

Chris Henderson from Pita Pit said the app had increased efficiency. About 100 schools had signed up. "Parents find it a lot easier than filling in forms on envelopes and finding change."

The Growth Collective had signed 67 schools up to EZLunch and that number was growing.

- Herald on Sunday

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