Mobile shopping set to surge so look out for savings

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SHOPPING on smartphones and tablet computers is surging as these devices saturate the Australian consumer marketplace.

About nine out of ten Australians have a mobile device but many are still unsure about using it to make purchases even though it can save time and money.

Research group Telsyte says mobile commerce last year totalled $5 billion, representing 22 per cent of total e-commerce spending of $23 billion, and up from 16 per cent in 2014.

The expectation is that it should rapidly grow to half of all of e-commerce in the next couple of years, Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi says.

People are no longer distinguishing between buying on a computer versus a smartphone or tablet anymore its becoming the same activity for most people, he says.

Telsyte says the most popular products bought on mobile devices are cosmetics and beauty 38 per cent of all online purchases and clothing and footwear (36 per cent).

Both categories are very strong with the female population so its a critical channel for retailers, Fadaghi says. Building and renovation products are also popular, with 18 per cent of online purchases made on mobile devices.

Fadaghi says smartphones are owned by 84 per cent of Australians aged over 16 and tablets are owned by 63 per cent.

More people use smartphones than computers in Australia, and its only logical that more shopping will happen on those mobile devices, he says.

Its about getting over that initial trust aspect.

A new survey by finder.com.au found that 41 per cent of Australians would not use a smartphone app to buy goods, and half of those who would use it would not spend more than $100 at a time.

Finder spokeswoman Bessie Hassan says app developers are tightening security for online shoppers but users should still be vigilant.

Always logout when youve finished making a transaction and be as discreet about login details as you would be about your banking PIN, she says.

Once youre happy its secure, the savings using your phone or tablet can be significant.

Firstly, having the internet in your pocket is a great way to check prices offered by rival retailers to make sure youre getting the best possible deal.

Hassan says some retailers issue discounts for customers who make purchases online or with their phones or tablets.

Similar to having a physical loyalty card at your local coffee shop, some providers allow you to use your mobile to build up your payment history so that you can be rewarded with a free product or discount, she says.

Often, dedicated shopping apps deliver push notifications so you never miss a sale or promotion.

Fadaghi says smartphone shopping may be dangerously tempting for impulse buyers, and shoppers should always check whether an online purchase is still the cheapest once delivery costs are added.