How consumers in the US, UK and Australia use various devices

You may think marketing in any English-speaking country is the same, but new survey results highlight different consumer habits in the US, UK and Australia.

If you think online shopping behavior is consistent in countries with comparatively mature Internet retailing, think again.

Australians have embraced smartphone ownership (88 percent own one), but they don’t use that device to shop very often. And older individuals in the UK are twice as likely to use a tablet for online shopping than their counterparts in the US or Australia.

These are just some of the interesting takeaways from Bronto’s recent online survey of 4,000 consumers in those three countries.

Understanding device ownership by country


US laptop ownership (80 percent) still exceeds smartphone ownership (75 percent), with 66 percent of consumers holding onto a desktop and 13 percent experimenting with wearables. Meanwhile, 60 percent of Britons own tablets, compared with 54 percent of Australians and 57 percent of Americans.

Device ownership patterns don’t line up with online purchasing patterns. Consumers in all three countries own an average of three of the survey’s five devices: desktop computer, laptop, smartphone, tablet, wearable.

But they don’t use them all for online purchases. In the three countries, men own more devices than women, and the younger consumers are more likely to shop using a smartphone than those over 55.

Usage, not ownership, provides clues

It’s the way consumers in these countries use the devices to purchase that show some distinct differences – and give marketers some ideas on how to more effectively reach their audience.

American consumers use 1.8 devices to purchase, while UK residents use 1.6. This should encourage marketers to work even harder to provide a seamless shopping experience. With consumers in those countries using multiple devices to purchase goods, it stands to reason that they might start the purchasing journey on one device and finish it on another.

Having a true omnichannel experience is critical. If I browse on my tablet and place something in a shopping cart, will I be able to see the cart from my smartphone? If I receive a cart abandonment email on my laptop, can I easily see the item I abandoned and buy it from my phone?


Assuming that a customer will start and finish a purchase on the same device is risky.

Not only do UK consumers own more tablets, but they’re also more inclined to use them for ecommerce. Thirty-four percent use tablets for shopping, compared with 25 percent of Americans and 19 percent of Australians.

Interest in purchasing products via tablets raises some questions. Does it signal a frustration in completing purchases on a mobile device? Is the tablet underappreciated as a browsing and buying tool?

Though not thought of as the go-to device for mobile computing outside the house, tablets are, nevertheless, easier to use while moving around than either a laptop or desktop. The larger screen works regardless of whether or not your site is responsive, and it lends itself to touchscreen options for inputting information. Perhaps the 22 percent of Brits 55 and older that purchase on a tablet have found it to be the best of both worlds.

A clear case for mobile responsiveness Down Under

A huge takeaway from Australia is that the device with the highest penetration isn’t necessarily the device that is used for shopping. Nearly 90 percent of Australians own smartphones, though only 30 percent use them to shop. In the US and the UK, the number is a bit higher, at 38 and 37 percent, respectively.


This is a clear signal that Australian ecommerce marketers need to board the responsive design boat. Otherwise, they are missing a huge opportunity. While smartphone ownership in Australia is high, Australians average just one device for online purchases, and that device is not often the smartphone.

Australian marketers need to pay particular attention if their audience is on the younger side. Under the age of 34, Australians are fairly close to Brits and Americans in terms of mobile commerce. Fifty-five percent report making smartphone purchases, but what about those individuals older than 35?

This is where Australia differs much more than the other countries; 40 percent of Australians aged 35 to 44 have purchased using a smartphone, compared with 58 percent in the US I’d argue that you have even more of a reason to invest in responsive design. This could give your ecommerce operation a clear edge, while still paving the way for reaching the demographic below 35.

Just as PayPal, Alipay, ApplePay, Venmo and Google Wallet are changing the way people pay for products, devices are changing how people browse and buy. Staying current on device usage across the globe and adapting to consumer preference is critical to success.

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