Study: You’re better off online shopping with a PC than a phone

If you’re planning to shop online with your smartphone this holiday season, you might want to reconsider. A new study suggests you’re better off browsing on your laptop or desktop.

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel found that websites viewed on a phone may look good, but they tend to leave out crucial details that consumers need to make their best buying decisions.

“The issue is not actually screen size,” according to Lior Fink, head of the university’s Mobile Behavior Lab and associate professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management.

Sites adjusted for mobile viewing reduce the information on the results page and require more digging around for information, while sites viewed on a computer screen give more information right up front, Fink said.

Participants in the study were asked to choose a hotel room, viewing information about rooms on either a personal computer or a mobile device. Researchers found that, while all information was available in both displays, participants on average viewed eight informational features about each room using a computer display, but only three using a mobile display. The information was more readily available on the computer display, the study said.

However, the research also showed that when the same amount of information was presented in a readily available way on smaller screens, equally accurate decisions were made.

It seems that the mobile display led to participants making decisions that were less accurate, not the mobile device itself.

The study appears to be the first to differentiate between screen size and information reduction.

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Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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