Survey respondents shun much-hyped mobile shopping technologies

Seventy-one per cent said they didn't like the idea of being tracked into a store via their smartphones

A survey of iOS and Android users show the vast majority of them know little, and care less, about the so-called "mobile shopping experience", despite the endless hype about its benefits. Overall, the "mobile shopping experience" ... isn't.

The results are in a study of more than 3000 active app users, on iOS and Android smartphones, sponsored by Retale, a location-based shopping platform. Seventy-one per cent say they don't like the idea of being tracked into a store via their smartphones, and 56 per cent say they are uninterested in receiving push notifications while they shop.

+Also on NetworkWorld:Apple's iBeacon turns location sensing inside out+

Retale doesn't explain how the users were selected or surveyed, whether the sample is representative of mobile users or of shoppers, or what is the margin of error (generally, the smaller the sample, the larger that margin).

The users were asked about their mobile shopping experiences, usage and their overall awareness of a range of shopping technologies, such as visit tracking, iBeacon, in-store push notifications, near field communications (NFC), Google Wallet and Apple's Passbook. To see complete survey results online, check Retale's webpage.

The study found a deep, and apparently blissful, ignorance of most of these technologies, and an equally deep lack of interest in them. For example, all were asked "what do you think of iBeacon," which is Apple's Bluetooth 4.0-based framework for indoor location services, including tracking. Eighty per cent of Android users picked "what is iBeacon?" It wasn't much better for iOS users: 69 per cent picked that same reply.

Check out Network World's contribution to ending iBeacon ignorance: "Apple's iBeacon turns location sensing inside out."

Overall, 56 percent of the sample says they are uninterested in receiving push notifications in a store; and less than half, 44 per cent, want retailers to send them notifications while they are shopping.

But iOS users as a group are somewhat more receptive to notifications than Android users. Almost 62 per cent of Android users say "No, I don't need them," compared to 50 per cent of iOS users.

Only 23 per cent of the iOS users have tried Passbook, which is an iOS feature to centrally collect coupons, loyalty cards, and other digital documents. Only 11 per cent of Android users say they have used Google Wallet.

Over half of the respondents don't know what "NFC" is; of those that do, most don't use it. The term stands for near field communications, a wireless technology touted for "contactless payments." When asked "Do you use NFC for payments?" only 5.6 per cent of the sample said yes, 38 per cent said no, and 56 per cent said "what is NFC?"

It would be a mistake to infer any kind of scientific validity to the results. But it is a welcome antidote to the grandiose claims about how mobile technology will transform shopping and create a new user experience paradigm along the way.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for "Network World."



Read more about anti-malware in Network World's Anti-malware section.

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