4G Connection Boosts Online Retail


The super-fast mobile internet connection provided by 4G makes users significantly more likely to shop online than smartphone owners who use 3G, according to a survey by eDigitalResearch and IMRG. 4G speeds make shopping using a smartphone quick and easy, where it used to be a slow and frustrating process.

Mobile Commerce with 4G

According to the survey, which included a sample of 2,000 nationally representative online shoppers and was undertaken on 14th and 15th April 2014, more than two thirds (68%) of 4G users feel that speedier internet access encourages them to make more online purchases using their 4G phones. The survey is a follow up to similar research conducted in April 2013 which indicated that the rollout of 4G was likely to have a positive impact on mobile commerce.

According to Tina Spooner, Chief Information Officer at IMRG, “With over half of 4G users having shopped via their smartphones, compared with around a third of their 3G counterparts, it is clear that faster access brings a higher level of customer engagement via mobile. During the mid-2000’s we saw a similar trend in overall e-retail, when the adoption of faster broadband connections resulted in a surge in online sales.”

In general 4G users are more engaged with mobile commerce, with 54% reporting that they have shopped using a smartphone, compared with just 32% of non-4G smartphone users. An impressive 70% of 4G users have used their phone to browse ecommerce sites, compared with 48% of non-4G smartphone owners.

While shopping via a smartphone is growing with the adoption of 4G, tablets and laptop computers are still the main devices for online shopping. When asked what their first port of call would be when shopping and browsing online, only 2% stated that this would be mobile sites or apps. However, this figure rose to 11% when just the 4G users were included.

Overall awareness of 4G among UK consumers is exceptionally high, despite the fact that the country has been relatively slow to roll it out. The results of the survey, which is known as the eCustomerServiceIndex, indicated that around one in five (19%) consumers now owns a 4G enabled smartphone. Only 11% of the online shoppers that took part in the survey said they had never heard of 4G, and over two thirds (69%) of those that had used 4G felt it had more advantages (such as increased speed) than disadvantages (such as increased cost).

A similar picture of mobile commerce was shown by EE’s Mobile Living Index for the second half of 2013. This indicated that 66% of EE’s customers use their 4G phones for shopping, and that 23% shop online more frequently than they did before they got their 4G connection. The same survey showed that men were the biggest spenders with a quarter spending more than £200 per month using their 4G phone, although women were catching up quickly. Fashion was most frequently purchased using a smartphone, followed by eBay or auction items, Amazon items, gifts, and food or groceries.

Commercial Director at eDigitalResearch Derek Eccleston, believes that, “As a nation, we were relatively slow to adopt 4G compared to other countries. However, now it’s here, these results demonstrate that the technology is likely to have a real impact on our shopping and browsing habits as UK networks charge ahead with their planned roll out to more locations and more users – mobile is likely to become even more pivotal for retailers with more of us shopping and browsing from our smartphones, both inside the home and out and about”.