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Online shopping: this is the real reason you shouldn’t do it on your phone

Posted by
Hollie Richardson
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Online shopping

Shopping on your mobile phone is quick and easy, right? But new research shows why we really should make the effort to pick up a laptop to make that purchase instead. 

We are a nation of late-night online shoppers. Stylist’s recent investigation into this consumer behaviour found that people in the UK spend more money online each year than residents of any other country in the world. Over half of UK consumers now shop more online than they do in-store. And it’s predicted that 50% of all purchases will be made online by 2028.

But this trend isn’t just about how we’re shopping; it’s also about when we’re doing it. Apparently, 10.18pm is the time we’re likeliest to make an online purchase. And data from John Lewis Partnership Card found one in 15 online purchases in 2018 happened between midnight and 6am. 

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Basically: we’re making most of these online purchases either on the sofa or in bed. With this in mind, it’s highly likely that we’re doing it on our mobile phones. And with Christmas just around the corner, we’ll surely be doing a lot more scrolling and tapping.

But new research has shown that, when it comes to online shopping, we really should put down the mobile phone and make the effort to pick up the laptop instead. And there’s a very simple reason for it…

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Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev found that consumers may make better shopping decisions using their PCs rather than smart phones or other mobile devices. This is simply because the amount of information you can see on a mobile device is less than it is on a laptop or desktop.

“The issue is not actually screen size,” said Prof. Lior Fink, head of the Mobile Behavior Lab and a member of the BGU Department of Industrial Engineering and Management. “It is actually the fact that sites adjusted for mobile viewing reduce the information offered on the results page and require more digging around in the site for information. Sites adjusted for PC viewing give more information right up front.”

Shopping at night
Shopping on your phone might be quicker, but you don't see as much information.

He continued to explain: “Most e-commerce providers use ‘responsive web design’ to adapt the presentation of information to the device used. While mobile friendly presentation improves visibility, it reduces the amount of information and causes consumers to make decisions that are less consistent with their preferences.”

The study showed that when the exact same information was presented on both screens, equally accurate decisions were made. But when participants were shown less information on the mobile device, they made less accurate decisions that didn’t align with their preferences.

So, until companies start to present shoppers with the same amount of information regardless of the device – it’s worth taking a bit more time to get out of bed and turn the laptop on. 

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Hollie Richardson

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