Nearly Half of U.S. Smartphone Owners Report Shopping on Their Device

Shopping is among activities shifting from computers and tablets to smartphones, according to the latest NPD Connected Intelligence report

Port Washington, NY, October 15, 2018 – The role of the consumer device is evolving, as content that was once the domain of the computer continues to migrate to smartphones. While activities such as maps/navigation, email, and social media have been steadily transitioning to smartphones, shopping has seen the greatest two-year increase in smartphone usage. Over the past two years shopping gained six percentage points, with 45 percent of smartphone users now reporting they shop online via their device.

According to the latest NPD Connected Intelligence Application & Convergence report, shopping via a tablet is also beginning to decline, down three percentage points over the past year. In fact, only 36 percent of consumers report using a tablet to shop online. As may be expected, these declines are being driven in part by 18-34-year-old users.

While it is clear consumers are increasingly leveraging smartphones for online shopping, computers are still the most commonly used device. Sixty-five percent of respondents indicate they leverage a computer for some online shopping; however, that rate is declining.

“Larger smartphones are better enabling activities such as shopping and more consumers are responding by using their mobile device to make purchases,” said John Buffone, executive director, industry analyst, NPD Connected Intelligence. “The result is a base of over 100 million consumers shopping on smartphones, which is, in part, driving growth in e-commerce sales.”

According to NPD’s Checkout E-commerce data, online consumer technology sales were up 13 percent in the 12 months ending August 2018 versus the year prior, as technology shoppers made nearly one additional consumer electronics (CE) purchase online1. During that time, the percentage of the U.S. adult online buying population that made at least one CE purchase reached 45 percent buyer penetration2, with categories like cell phone accessories, portable audio, and mobile power achieving the highest purchase incidence levels.

“Overall, mobile commerce growth is being driven by an increasing number of transactions,” said Stephen Baker, vice president, industry advisor for The NPD Group. “Consumers are leveraging their smartphones to purchase ‘grab and go’ items, as these purchases can be made conveniently, without investing the time to examine product reviews or visit multiple sites for price comparisons.”

1The NPD Group, Checkout E-commerce, Sept. 2017 – Aug. 2018 vs. Sept. 2016 – Aug. 2017

2Buyer penetration is the percentage of the U.S. adult online buying population that made at least one technology purchase during the indicated timeframe.



The results of the NPD Group Connected Intelligence Application & Convergence Report are based on consumer panel research that reached 5,420 U.S. consumers, aged 18+ from diverse regions and demographical backgrounds. They reported their usage of desktops/laptops, connected TVs, tablets, and smartphones. This survey was fielded from April 26 through May 10, 2018. Trend is compared to the May 2017 and May 2016 surveys, which fielded during a similar period those years.