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Research: Americans use mobile devices in-store, just not to pay

U.S. shoppers rank relatively high on a global scale when it comes to mobile device use during trips to brick-and-mortar stores across retail industries, with 37% participating, yet just 2% of U.S. shoppers use a mobile device to make a payment in-store, the findings of GfK shopper research show.

Out of 20 countries measured, the U.K. recorded the most in-store use of a mobile device (40% of shoppers), and Canada and India also scored higher than the U.S., according to the research. In China, 30% of shoppers use their mobile device in-store, and 24% of Chinese shoppers use their devices for automatic payments.

Americans are using their phones in-store to compare prices (25%), search for product information (19%), read online reviews (17%) and check availability (14%), but a small group uses it to pay for purchases.

Tim Spenny, group account director, financial services for market researcher GfK, attributes the low mobile payment adoption to security concerns and a lack of information.

“When we ask consumers to identify barriers to adopting mobile payments, they cite worries about the security of their personal information and the perception that paying with a mobile device in-store is still a gimmick,” he told SN via email. “However, when we dig deeper, we see that there is a lack of a consumer value proposition and understanding of the consumer benefits of using mobile phones to pay in-store.”

He added that consumers would be more apt to pay via mobile device if the shopping and paying experience were made seamless within a single mobile app.

“Understanding consumers’ shopping behaviors and addressing the most relevant pain points and drivers within the shopping experience make up the secret formula for a successful mobile payment app,” he said. “It’s no surprise that the Starbucks app is a success; it removes the need to stand in line and to check out, allows customers to earn and redeem rewards and pay seamlessly — and lets customers get their coffee faster.”

Retailers also stand to benefit “massively” from accepting payments this way, he said.

“Mobile payments are arguably more secure than other methods,” he said. “The reduced rate of fraud at the point of sale should ultimately reduce the retailers’ risk profile through higher mobile payment adoption. In addition, creating improved retail experience through a consumer-centric mobile payment app will increase consumers’ loyalty.”

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