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ComScore: Cellphone Purchases Rising Via Internet, Telesales

11/08/2010 12:01:00 AM Eastern

NEW YORK – The percentage of people acquiring
a cellphone through the internet and telesales
rather than through brick-and-mortar stores and
kiosks is on the upswing in 2010, ComScore statistics
show.

Among consumers ages 13 and older, more than a
third who acquired at least one cellphone through July
of this year made the acquisition through the Internet
or via telesales, and the percentage has been creeping
up this year compared with last year.

ComScore tracks cellphone users on a continuing
basis, surveying a total of 234,000 subscribers over a
rolling three-month period. At the end of each month,
ComScore averages the responses from the preceding
three months.

The surveyed consumers, ages 13 and older, are
asked them if they have purchased at least one phone
in the preceding month. The respondents are also
asked to name their “purchase venue,” such as Best
Buy, an independent cellular store or the respondent’s
current cellular provider. Respondents are also asked
to identify their “purchase method,” which consists of
online purchases, over-the-phone purchases, and purchases
through brick-and-mortar stores and kiosks.
Those three choices exclude phones given to them by
their employer or by friends and family as gifts.

At the end of each month, ComScore develops an
average for the three-month period ending that month.

This year, for each three-month period ending each
month through July, ComScore found a slightly higher
percentage of consumers buying through the Internet
and over the phone compared with the year-ago threemonth
period.

In its July 2010 results, for example, ComScore
found that on average, 38 percent of surveyed consumers
who bought one or more phones in the previous
three months made their purchases over the Internet
or over the phone, compared with 34.8 percent in
the July 2009 survey.

In the June 2010 results, the percentage was 36.5
percent, up from the year-ago 34.9 percent. In May
2010, the percentage was 36.6 percent, up from May
2009’s 34.4 percent.

In April 2010, the percentage rose to 36.6 percent
from the year-ago 34 percent. In March 2010, the percentage
was 36.6 percent, up from March 2009’s
34.4 percent. In February 2010, the percentage was
38.2 percent, up from 33.6 percent. And in January
2010, the percentage was 36.6 percent, up from the
year ago’s 33.2 percent.

The Internet and over-the-phone percentages include
sales through carrier- and non-carrier websites
as well as through carrier and non-carrier phone-sales
operations. Those percentages exclude phones received
from friends and family who might have purchased
over the Internet or by phone, but the number
of those purchases is too small to affect the overall
results, ComScore said.

ComScore also found that Walmart consistently
ranked first in the indirect, or non-carrier, distribution
channel between January 2009 and July 2010.
Marketers attribute the ranking to Walmart’s U.S.
store count of almost 3,600 and to a more aggressive
cellular merchandising strategy.

With fewer stores, Best Buy came in a consistent
second in each month’s results during the Jan. 2009-
July 2010 period, usually followed in third place by
eBay, which placed fourth during a handful of months.

For its part, RadioShack fluctuated in rank among
third, fourth and fifth place during the January 2009
through July 2010 period in close contention with
eBay and Amazon.

The survey also found that independent retailers are
losing share this year in the indirect channel. If independent
retailers were considered a single entity, they
would have ranked third on an aggregate basis in the
surveys through most of 2009 but would have fallen to
fourth or fifth place through most of the January-July
2010 period.

The purchase venue cited by more consumers
than any other single venue was their current cellular-
service provider, whether the venue was the carrier’s
store, website or telesales channel, the survey
found.

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