ComScore: Cellphone Purchases Rising Via Internet, Telesales

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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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