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SAN FRANCISCO – Buying a new smartphone via your old smartphone has become the preferred purchasing channel for people searching for a new smartphone, according to a study from JD Power. That’s why the results of our latest purchase experience study of the online market for smartphones with a plan are especially relevant to wireless providers today.

As was the case last time around, has once again taken the top spot in the rankings with relative ease. Unlike six months ago, however, has leapfrogged AT& in the rankings to take the second spot while has moved from last place into 5th. Let’s take a look at some of the key insights from this study.

  • Digital Sales Score
    Name study: Smartphone+Plan
    Measurement: June 2018
    Country: United States
  • Total
  • 1 79
  • 2 71
  • 3 70
  • 4 69
  • 5 50
  • 6 49
  • 7 49
  • 8 48
  • 9 42
  • See full list
  • Highest total score
  • Highest score on device

The Task

The 300 respondents in this study were given the following task: “Imagine that your current plan is ending and its time for a new smartphone. Imagine you’d like to find a new smartphone combined with a wireless plan that suits your budget, needs, and desires.​ Please assess all the steps to purchase a smartphone with plan on the same site, but don’t actually make a purchase.”​ Each respondent featured in this study searched for a smartphone via their own smartphone. For the full research set up, click here.

Digital Excellence: Who gets the highest preference?

Two times as many respondents chose as their preferred provider in comparison with second-place finisher That’s how strongly Verizon performed in this study. Out of the 87% respondents who found, which is an incredible number for any benchmark study, 34% wound up choosing Verizon as the company that provides the best digital experience. So why do respondents flock to Beyond being an established name that is easily findable on the web, is a leader in mobile design and is beyond capable in communicating their products to customers. For the categories “Relevant information found quickly”, “Appearance fits product” and “Expect to find suitable product”, Verizon is rated the highest.

When respondents who chose Verizon were asked why they chose wireless giant as their preferred provider, one respondent said “I like the fact that I could find what I was looking for in just a few seconds.” Still, despite taking first place again, there are some points where can improve on. In terms of price quality ratio, Verizon ranked 7th, indicating that while many customers are choosing the wireless provider for their strong brand and reliability, others are backing out because prices are perceived as being too high.

What the data says about the competition

The data we extracted from this Digital Sales Scan provides a snapshot of digital excellence within the US market for smartphones. Let’s have a look at some of the findings: moved up two spots in the rankings from 8th place to 6th thanks in part to a higher rate of findability. Despite being found 4% more compared to the last time we measured this market in October, Cricket’s conversion remained stagnant at 10%. Out of all the providers featured in this study, Cricket relied on being found through a search engine more than any other provider, with nearly 65% of respondents discovering using a search engine like

•  The findability of skyrocketed from 58% to 72% since October. Respondents were attracted with the appearance of T-Mobile’s website and awarded the provider with the highest score for the Look & Feel of their website during the first impression phase of the customer journey. Where might be losing customers is during the ordering process, a part of the customer journey where T-Mobile was ranked 5th. also saw no change in their conversion rate went from bottom dweller to 5th place in this study. So what’s changed?  First off, saw a jump in findability, with 9% more respondents finding them. Another key aspect is that is perceived as offering a good price to quality ratio, finishing just behind in that category. featured in the rankings for the first time. The October rankings of the Smartphone + Plan market didn’t even feature This time around enough respondents evaluated the Chicago-based provider’s website to be a part of the rankings. Still, in terms of findability, only 7% of respondents found the site during their customer journey. But of those respondents who did wind up, 32% selected the site as their preferred wireless network. That rate of conversion is second only to, who had a conversion rate of 34%. One category in which did surprisingly well was Order Process, with the site getting an outstanding score of 89 for the subject “Purchase process runs smoothly.”

• Telecom giant AT&T dropped one place in the rankings and saw a slight decline in conversion. One major aspect that failed to improve on is the Look & Feel of their website as they remain near the bottom in this category. On a more positive note, findability did go up 8% this time around.

Aim of this study

With this study, we wanted to identify and measure the digital experience that consumers have when searching for a new smartphone with a plan through their old smartphone. By having our respondents use smartphones as their searching channel, we are able to get as close as possible to the actual user experience while getting great insights into the mobile web design of wireless providers. We want to find out who consumers choose to buy from, and mainly: Why? Using a proven model WUA has worked on over the past 10 years, we map out exactly the consumers want, what the best practices are, and what the areas for improvement are. The websites of these companies were assessed by consumers in the study:

To beat the competition, you have to offer an excellent digital experience

This study shows once again that Digital Excellence is an absolute necessity. To beat the competition, you have to offer an excellent digital experience in the entire customer journey, and take the number 1 position when it comes to preference. Being found and scoring high in Google isn’t enough. You have to design a website that guides the customer to the product they want and provides a feeling of support.

Would you like more insights into the US market for smartphones? We have a crystal-clear image of your position and results.