Today’s consumer is always connected, with mobile devices supporting them almost in all daily routines – read morning news on tablet, check social media updates on a smartphone and work on a laptop or desktop. This always-on reality has changed the way we interact with brands and shop. All retailers, whether physical or online, who want to meet consumers’ needs of today’s consumers must understand this evolving adoption of electronic devices and their impact on the way people shop.

According to a 2015 US survey by Ipsos[1], the amount of people who own a mobile device has increased in 2015 compared to previous year – from 37% to 50% for tablet and from 51% to 63% for smartphone. This however, didn’t mean US consumers exchange larger devices such as laptops for smaller ones such as smartphones. Instead, the majority of people have gradually increased the amount of devices they own as the number of people who owned larger devices decreased only slightly – from 72% to 68% for desktop and from 78% to 76% for laptop.

Laptops are still the most widely owned devices for all ages except seniors, though ownership declines with age. Older online shoppers, those over 40, are likely to still own a desktop computer. Smartphone ownership follows a similar pattern as laptops with ownership declining by age.

When asked about their preferred device for shopping and buying, the majority of the respondents pointed to desktop computers and laptops (63% and 62%, respectively) while mobile devices were less preferred, with smartphones at 10% and tablets at 8% for shopping and 7% for buying.

Laptops and desktops are strongly preferred as the primary device for shopping and buying across all ages. Desktop computer preferences increase with age, while laptop preferences remain fairly constant for all demographics. Smartphone and tablet preferences are strongest for those under 40, with smartphones the more commonly used of the two. 23% of online shoppers aged 18-29 prefer shopping on a smartphone, and one in five prefers shopping on a tablet. This trend is more or less in line with the data from Cyber Monday, the barometer event in US shopping. Cyber Monday 2014 saw 28% of sales come from mobile devices. Interestingly, the adoption of mobile devices for shopping and buying by US consumers is lower than the one of Chinese shoppers where online shopping discount event Single’s Day in 2014 saw 43% of sales come from mobile.

Mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, are becoming a solid part of the shop-to-buy equation for the younger shoppers while desktop computers and laptops are by far the most preferred devices for shoppers over 40. Overall, the path to purchase is becoming more fragmented and e-retailers as well as marketers need to respond to the changing market.

Access the full report here.

device of choice

[1] The study was conducted in January 2015 and consisted of 1,012 consumers in the United States who bought online within the past 12 months.