We’ve been talking about the rise of the smart buyer, consumers who are much more savvy about shopping thanks to new mobile and online tools. All signs points to consumers shopping more on their phones, especially this holiday season, which will be big for mobile shopping.

But new data shows that consumers are getting more comfortable with making bigger purchases on their smartphones and tablets. A study commissioned by Motricity and conducted by Wakefield Research found that on average, the most expensive thing Americans have purchased on a smartphone or tablet cost $274. Men spent more on purchases, on average paying $312 for the most expensive item bought on a mobile device, while women spent $222 for their most expensive purchase.

In a separate survey, mobile advertising company JiWire surveyed 2,000 of its mobile users and found that 68 percent were willing to spend up to $250 on a mobile purchase, while 18 percent would make purchases of more than $500. JiWire’s data also found that 70 percent of men are very comfortable shopping on their devices. Men are also more likely to use their mobile device for shopping while in a store.

Some other interesting data points from the two studies:

  • 70 percent of mobile shoppers made more purchases in 2011 than they did in 2010 from a smartphone or tablet.
  • Mobile users aged 25-44 are nearly twice as likely to feel that shopping from a mobile device is more convenient than those aged 18-24 (42 percent vs. 23 percent).
  • 55 percent of users under 30 would rather give up their computers for six months than their smartphones.
  • The most popular things to buy on a mobile device: Entertainment, including books, music, movies (32 percent); travel (27 percent); electronics (23 percent); clothing (17 percent); software/hardware (14 percent); gifts such as flowers (13 percent) and local deals (10 percent.)
  • 15 percent prefer to shop online, 22 percent prefer in store and 63 percent favor both.

The numbers show that despite some security and convenience concerns, users are open to using their mobile devices not just for simple purchases but for bigger-ticket items. About a third of respondents in the Motricity survey said security was the top barrier to buying on a smartphone or tablet, along with difficulty in viewing product information on their screen, which was also 32 percent. And 31 percent blamed slow or bad Internet connections.

I think as users get more comfortable buying on mobile devices and more sites get optimized for mobile, we should see spending go up even more. It seems there is an opportunity especially to get more women to make bigger purchases on mobile.

As Stacey pointed out, mobile is providing a boost to different sectors including travel, with Expedia saying that 60 percent of its mobile hotel bookings are for stays that night. It goes up to 80 percent when you look at Hotwire properties. That means people are buying hotel rooms at the last minute, right through their phones. These can be purchases of at least a hundred dollars if not more.

I think those types of purchases might be easier to make because you’re not examining a product. And that might be what’s raising the average purchase amount. But it’s interesting to see that people are also buying electronics through their mobile devices though it doesn’t appear like most tablet users are ready to buy a tablet on their tablet. That should change soon enough.

Source: GigaOM