The Desktop is Dead, Long Live the Desktop! Survey Finds Desktop Shopping Remains Popular Among UK Consumers

Although experts may proclaim that the desktop is dead, a new consumer survey from Signal, a global leader in real-time, people-based marketing, found that the desktop is alive and well as shoppers’ preferred way to browse and buy gifts. The new data confirms that in the UK, people prefer digital shopping over stores, and that mobile is the future in retail, with half of Millennials preferring laptops and mobile over stores, and 1 in 5 choosing mobile phones and tablets as their favourite way to shop.

The survey of 2,000 UK consumers found that the majority prefer shopping for gifts on their desktops or laptops over stores or mobile. More than half (61%) of respondents chose desktop as their favourite way to browse for gifts, and 54% said most of their gift purchases are completed on a desktop. Consumers also still love shopping in stores, which ranked second in the survey as the best way to shop: 25% prefer to browse for gifts in stores and 34% prefer buying in stores.

“Retailers need to focus on their digital strategies, especially as they firm up plans for the 2016 festive shopping season,” said Neil Joyce, SVP and Managing Director, EMEA, at Signal. “Consider how desktop experiences can complement in-store experiences, and vice versa, to give consumers the options to shop how they want, where they want, and increase chances of making the sale.”

While consumers’ love of mobile is highlighted by the increasing amount of time they spend on mobile devices, just 6% of shoppers say that mobile phones and only 8% say that tablets are their channel of choice for browsing for gifts. Connected devices are used even less often to make purchases, with 4% reporting their phone and 7% reporting tablets as their favourite method of buying.

However, mobile appears to be the future of retail, with people saying that they are shopping more often on phones and tablets. Almost 1 in 5 said that they plan to browse on their mobile phone more frequently than they did last year, and 12% say they plan to purchase from their phone more frequently than last year. Additionally, Millennials (aged 18-34), are leading the way in the mobile revolution – they are 4 times more likely to shop for gifts on their mobile phones than older consumers. Women are also more likely than men to shop with their mobile devices.

“Although mobile isn’t consumers’ preferred method of browsing and buying yet, 1 in 3 shoppers do use mobile websites or mobile apps to make purchases. Retailers should consider how to take friction out of the mobile experience to better serve consumers on the go, especially as mobile-loving Millennials continue to gain buying power,” Joyce said.

The findings suggest several strategies to improve mobile shopping experiences.

  • Be there when customers need it. Consumers like the convenience that mobile shopping offers: 38% of respondents said that they shop via mobile because it allows them to make purchases on the move, and 27% say they like the ability to buy things while they’re doing something else. Retailers should help make the mobile purchasing process seamless for on-the-go consumers, and can do so by leveraging first-party data to understand consumer behaviour across devices, and optimise the journey accordingly.
  • Make the mobile experience secure and simple. People who don’t make mobile purchases are concerned about the security of their information, as reported by 40% of respondents. The current mobile experience also doesn’t make it easy for them to purchase – 25% of these respondents say it’s hard to see products on mobile screens, and 14% say it’s difficult to enter purchasing information on their device. But, 20% of consumers say that product information optimised for mobile would compel them to shop on their devices more often. Retailers should optimise websites for mobile shopping, and create and promote apps which can make browsing and buying more convenient and secure.
  • Make consumers’ lives easier with mobile. People who don’t shop on mobile say that mobile-specific discounts (30%) and easier purchase processes like 1-click purchasing or buy online/pick-up in store (20%), would motivate them to use their devices. Mobile is an important part of delivering experiences that empower customers to shop the way they want to, and can help retailers blend the best of both digital and in-store experiences.

“The key takeaway from this survey is that consumers want to shop in the ways that they prefer, and they’ve got more devices and channels to choose from than ever before. It’s important for retailers to strategise around all the buying considerations that can lead to dramatically different customer journeys. For example, a parent buying their child’s first bike for Christmas is likely to do research online before going to look at the bike in a store, versus a shopper seeking napkins for a Christmas lunch who will make a quick purchase along with paper hats, crackers and cards,” Joyce said.

In addition to these findings, Signal recently released a whitepaper with Digital Clarity Group, “The Amazon Threat and The Facebook Trap: Retailers Can Win with Relevance in the Next Holiday Season.” The report shares strategies for how retailers can overcome challenges to delight holiday shoppers and turn them into buyers. To download the report, visit here.

About Signal

Signal is a global leader in real-time people-based marketing. With one platform, Signal’s integrated technology combines data collection, persistent identification, data onboarding and media activation for real-time cross-channel engagement. By leveraging Signal’s platform, brands and publishers gain immediate knowledge of buyers, access to high quality audiences and a simplified activation process to engage consumers within minutes of recognition.

Today, Signal’s technology runs on more than 45,000 digital properties in 158 countries. The platform facilitates billions of data requests monthly, supporting top brands around the world that generate more than $1.5 trillion in commerce, including Allstate, Audi, Crate & Barrel, JetBlue Airways, Starcom MediaVest Group, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and many more.

Signal has been recognised with numerous awards and honors, including being named the third-fastest growing software company in the country, and the 51st-fastest growing company overall, on the 2015 Inc. 5000 list. Visit to learn more and follow Signal on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Originally published July 06, 2016

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