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Can 4G boost the retail industry?

Some 34% of smartphone owners will be 'very likely' or 'likely to purchase more items from their mobile device thanks to 4G technology and faster internet connections, according to new research.

The latest eCustomerServiceIndex (eCSI) survey from eDigitalResearch and e-tail trade body IMRG asked 2,000 consumers across the UK about their use of mobile in the shopping journey, with existing 4G users seemingly more engaged with technology in general.

Over three quarters (77%) of 4G users have accessed the internet from their 4G-enabled device whilst out shopping, compared to 53% of 3G smartphone users. The research also indicates that 62% of 4G users have used a barcode scanner to see if they can find a cheaper product elsewhere, compared to 20% of 3G smartphone owners.

Vodafone's head of retail & online, Martin Roberts, told Essential Retail recently that 4G has the capability to "speed up the retail landscape", adding that the it is on top of the agenda in conversations with customers in stores across the UK.

Meanwhile, speaking at an industry event earlier this year, CEO of Carphone Warehouse Andrew Harrison commented: "4G is going to be like moving from dial-up to broadband.

"As technology changes, so do the things you do and the way you live. People will become more reliant on phones through technology that hasn't even been invented yet."

The eCSI study found that of those who have 4G technology available to them, and have used it, 43% reported that it was 'considerably faster', while 39% said they found it to be 'faster'.

Derek Eccleston, commercial director at eDigitalResearch, remarked: "The introduction of 4G technology looks set to have a considerable impact on retail markets.

"With faster internet speeds and a better all-round browsing experience, more and more shoppers are likely to turn to their 4G-enabled device to help them through their multichannel purchase journey; whether that's to read customer reviews, check product descriptions or compare prices."