How in-store shoppers use their smartphones

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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young male shopper
Close to nine in 10 in-store shoppers use a smartphone.

A new survey reveals how frequently brick-and-mortar customers utilize their smartphones, and why.

According to the 2023 Consumer Product Content Benchmark Report from product content orchestration platform 1WorldSync, 87% of surveyed U.S. and Canadian shoppers use their smartphone to research a product while in-store at least some of the time.

Popular information in-store shoppers research via smartphone include price comparisons (72%), customer reviews (69%) and detailed product descriptions (52%). In other data indicating that many consumers shop across channels, two-thirds (66%) of respondents have purchased an item online in the last 12 months that they previously only ever bought in-store.

The most popular items purchased online that were previously only bought in-store are clothing & accessories (50%), health & personal care (42%) and beauty & cosmetics (35%). The survey also found that six in 10 (61%) in-store shopping trips begin online, a 25% increase from 2022.

User-generated content proves popular

The survey also examined the role of user-generated content (UGC) in the online shopping experience, finding two-thirds of respondents said that customer reviews significantly influence a purchase decision. More than half (53%) of respondents under the age of 35 will not buy a product with less than five reviews.

However, as few as four to five unfavorable reviews can deter nearly half (43%) of respondents from making a purchase. One in five respondents admit to writing reviews for products they haven't bought.

Influencers have small impact
Results indicate influencers may not have the purchase-driving power once thought. Only 40% of respondents report acting on an influencer's recommendation in the last 12 months, while 61% of those who did make an influencer-based purchase found their recommendation did not accurately reflect the product.

Contrary to generational stereotypes, respondents aged 18-35 are less likely (33%) to make a purchase based on an influencer's recommendation than those 34-45 (39%). The survey also reveals traditional personal networks and brand messaging remain pivotal in shaping purchasing decisions.

[Read more: Gen Z prefers this type of online content]

Other findings

  • A little more than one-third (35%) of respondents have deployed augmented reality (AR) tools during mobile shopping and 57% relying on them to help visualize product dimensions. In contrast, 78% respondents remain unaware of/have yet to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) tools for product searches.
  • Almost one in four (23%) respondents are shopping less with delivery services/courier apps this year compared to 2022.
  • Close to half (46%) of shoppers have never shopped at budget or fast-fashion e-commerce sites like Temu or Shein, citing the perception of poor quality products, untrustworthy reputation and unfamiliarity as reasons.
  • Almost half (48%) of respondents will stop shopping from a brand after making two to three returns, with more than half citing misleading or poor product content as the reason fueling their returns.
  • The average respondent predicts they will do approximately 60% of their holiday shopping online,

The survey was conducted online by 1WorldSync via Pollfish in August 2023 among a randomized, representative sample of 1,500 online shoppers in the U.S. and Canada over the age of 18