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With smartphones now the majority of mobile phones in the US, shopping via mobile is more popular than ever: 47% of American smartphone owners used a mobile shopping app in June 2012, according to data from Nielsen.

Moreover, some 45 million smartphone owners used an app in Nielsen's shopping/commerce category during the month, accessing shopping apps 17 times on average.

Major brands already well-known for online buying were the most popular in Nielsen's category in June:

  • eBay and Amazon apps attracted 13.1 million and 12.1 million unique users, respectively.
  • Daily deal site Groupon was close behind, attracting 11.9 million users during the month.
  • Traditional retailers such as Target and Walgreens garnered mobile traffic (2.8 million and 2.1 million users, respectively) from savvy shoppers looking to find the best deals in their local retail stores.
  • Apps such as Shopkick, Out of Milk, and RedLaser rounded out the list of top 10 shopping apps, reflecting the unique opportunities for apps to engage shoppers in retail locations.

As for engagement, Shopkick took the lead, with users spending more than 3 hours using the app during the month (3:19:11). eBay Mobile was second, with users spending about an hour using the app during the month (1:01:02).

"Retailers are finding that consumers are willing to use smartphone apps to enhance their shopping experience, and this data shows usage of shopping apps is growing," said Don Kellogg, director of Telecom Insights at Nielsen

Smartphones Now the Majority

Smartphone owners now comprise the majority of mobile phone users, according to separate research from Nielsen: In March 2012, 50.4% of all US mobile subscribers owned smartphones, up from 47.8% in December 2011.

Shoppers Prefer Mobile Websites

Interestingly, smartphone owners of both genders prefer retailers' mobile websites over mobile apps, according to additional research from Nielsen.

Men are slightly more likely than women to try retailers' mobile apps. However, consumers who use retailer's mobile apps tend to spend more time on them, the study found.

During the 2011 holiday season, the top retail apps and websites combined— Amazon, Best Buy, eBay, Target, and Walmart—reached nearly 60% of smartphone owners:

Target and Walmart attracted more female shoppers to their mobile websites (65% and 58%, respectively), whereas men favored Best Buy's mobile site (61%). Both men and women were equally likely to shop at Amazon and eBay's mobile sites:

About the data: June 2012 data are based on the activity of a panel of 5,000+ US smartphone owners' mobile Web and apps use, measured via Android OS and iOS platforms. The 2011 holiday data (October 2011 to January 2012) are based on the metering of the smartphones of 5,000 US volunteers participating in Nielsen's mobile research.

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