by Jason Reed, Lead Analyst – Digital Consumer at GSMA Intelligence

It’s no secret that the growing reliance on technology is changing how often people use their devices – and what they use them for. The ever increasing consumer demand for convenience – coupled with the lockdown restrictions felt across Europe – has only accelerated the shift from brick-and-mortar to online, particularly on mobile.

With more people edging closer to mobile connectivity and app services, the expectation of what can be delivered and how quickly it can get to our doors is only heightening.

Mobile devices can simplify and speed up how we buy products, but they can also affect how we conduct our simple daily activities. Take Alexa devices, which now mean that individuals don’t even need to get up from their sofas to turn a light switch off.

The convenience of these technologies means that more Brits are increasingly turning to their mobile devices for everything – from shopping to controlling their homes and even monitoring their health.

The Changing Face of Weekly Shops

Research conducted at GSMA Intelligence recently revealed that 34% of UK smartphone owners shop online using their phones at least once a week. That figure is even higher at 48% for those who have adopted 5G smartphones.

From a weekly grocery shop to a next day delivery for last-minute shopping on a smartphone through apps adds simplicity and expediency to the shopping process. Through apps, consumers can quickly re-order the previous week’s shop, and they can compare products and price points with just the click of a button.

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When looking at the data across Europe, the insights are compelling, as Brits are more likely to use their phone to shop each week than the rest of the continent. In France, the figure is 21% of smartphone users, while it’s 29% in Germany.

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In fact, across all the mobile use cases GSMA Intelligence track, when it comes to payments, money management, or commerce, Brits are consistently among the most engaged in Europe. For example, the weekly use of mobile banking apps in the UK is 59% compared to 44% in France and 38% in Germany. And 37% of those in the UK use their mobile phones on a weekly basis to manage or pay bills, compared to 24% in Germany and 16% in France.

A Renewed Interest in the Smart Home

With lockdown driving people to online shopping, one area of retail that has seen resurgence is smart home technologies. With people spending more time at home, they are naturally more willing to spend money on home improvements.

Though there were already approximately 9 million homes with at least one smart home device in the UK, this figure was predicted to grow by a predicted 200K over the Black Friday period. Top of the list was a smart doorbell, which was expected to account for 45% of smart home sales, followed by smart security cameras at 39%.

Gone are the days of people having to wonder if they left the oven on when they leave the house. Smart home technologies enable the ability to control multiple home devices from a single mobile phone. With the swipe of a finger or the sound of a voice, individuals can see who is at their front door, turn their lights on, and change the temperature of a room.

Connectivity and health, all in one place

The convenience that people seek at home and while shopping also applies to fitness.

According to the research done by GSMA, despite more people taking note of their health and fitness during the pandemic, fitness tracker ownership remained flat in the UK between 2019 and 2020 (23% in 2020 compared to 22% in 2019). This trend is expected to continue, with only 7% planning to buy a new fitness tracker in the next 12 months. Almost twice as many, or 12% of Brits, plan to buy a smartwatch.

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Fitness trackers allow people to participate in competitions such as step challenges and keep people connected. But one thing individuals don’t need is yet another device to worry about. One reason for the rise in smart watches could be the ease of having everything in one place, from tracking fitness to shopping online and listening to music. It can all be managed with one device.

Everyone’s lives have become more dependent on mobile connectivity this year, and it is evident in how this is starting to affect their habits. It enables people to streamline their purchasing journeys and transform how they use technology to go about their daily lives.