Do you know what location-based services are? Do you use such services and if so, which? These and other questions were posed to customers at the end of 2013, 2014 and again last year, allowing for the first series of time comparisons on this topic.
The Niederrhein University, together with the Trade Association Germany and bonial.com, led a study into the use of location-based services (LBS) in consecutive years. In addition to basic understanding of the dissemination and acceptance of LBS, it was particularly clear that growing expectations of their use for local business were enabled by an increased frequency and intensity of smartphone usage.
Awareness of location-based services grows slowly
About 83% of respondents reported that they regularly obtain information about offers and promotions in their vicinity. This has barely changed since 2014. The popularity of Location-based Services, however, has been slowly rising.
- In 2013, 10% respondents knew what LBS were and 12% had heard about them, but did not know exactly what they were
- In 2014, 12% knew about LBS and 18% had only heard of them
- In 2015, again 12% knew about them, while 21% had only heard of them
Customers inform themselves before making a purchase via their smartphone
Generally speaking, the use of smartphones for shopping research is becoming widespread.
Location services still enjoy a relatively constant use, with a 79% usage rate in 2013, 81% in 2014 and 78% in 2015. When consumers were searching for prices on the their mobile device, this rate increased from 73% in 2013 to 78% in 2014 and 79% in 2015.
Also, the rate of those who were interested in nearby retail offers rose to 65% in 2013, 68% in 2014 and 70% in 2015, while still a little more than half of the participants performed location-based mobile price searches (2013: 50%, 2014: 56%, 2015: 53%).
More acceptance for technical support in-store
Even while shopping, the willingness to rely on a digital screen for help has increased. In 2014, only 44% thought to use a mobile device close to the product they were considering to purchase, while in 2015, the rate rose to 50%. Customers’ preference to use their own device (2014: 43%, 2015:42%) or a tablet from the retailer (2014: 82%, 2015: 83%) remained unchanged.
The explicit understanding of Location-based Services is only rising slowly. In 2014, 23% of respondents knew the name of an actual service, and in 2015 this number rose to 35%. In this regard, KaufDA has a significant lead ahead of Google and gas station services, the most popular applications.
The search for retailers and opening times will remain the most important
Overall, the main use of LBS is not the search of deals. The most important for 37% of respondents was finding a business’ opening times and for 35%, this was finding stores and services nearby in a specific category.
Customers are also interested in cross-channel offers from brick and mortar retailers, such having an the possibility to shop at an online store, with an interest rate of 51% (2013: 44%, 2014: 47%). Additionally, 61% of the respondents are interested in home delivery and 41% would like a delivery option to a nearby shop.
Slow technical upgrades remain an obstacle
In the end, the question of why some customers are not using location-based services arises. In the survey, there were different responses, but most prevalent reason was the inability to use a smartphone at the point of purchase: 34% said a lack of reception was the reason, a 140% increase from last year. This means that the lack of hotspots and wifi prevents a large number of online research in the store - a factor that has an important contribution to the buying decision.
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