How Phone Use Varies by Store

Mobile use in big box and department stores has some unique patterns

Author: Monica Melton

May 26, 2017

How do shoppers integrate their mobile phone into their shopping experience while in-store? They use it to compare prices—a common activity for all shoppers—but they also are focused on using the device to read reviews and check on inventory.

These observations are drawn from DMI’s “State of Mobility in Department and Big Box Stores,” which surveyed 2,500 shoppers in December 2016 and compared the mobile behaviors of big-box and department store shoppers with the general population.

Overall, all shoppers in the study said they compared prices on their phones while in-store, looking for ways to make their shopping experience more affordable and efficient. How they went about this, however, differed between respondent groups.


Big-box and department store shoppers said they used their phones to request help from an expert. They also accessed their device to read reviews of products they were interested in, and to check inventory and loyalty points.

The “general population” shoppers—those who had not visited a big-box store or department store in the past six months—seemed less focused on actual transactions. Their top five activities on mobile included taking a picture of an item they liked or scanning a barcode to learn more about a product.

The second highest activity among general shopper respondents was accessing a coupon. That jibes with March 2017 Yieldbot data of shopping-related activities, where more than half (55%) of US smartphone users surveyed said they looked for coupons on their phone.