As mobile apps continue to proliferate, new consumer research indicates retailers might reconsider hiring those developers. According to a report from Equation Research, an overwhelming majority of shoppers prefer to use the browser.

How overwhelming? Just four percent said they’d rather use an app when shopping on a smartphone or tablet. That’s worth noticing when 87 percent of tablet owners used their device for 2011 holiday shopping and spent an average of $325 while doing so. Additionally, about half of those (49 percent) said they expected their tablet shopping to increase for 2012.

The research, which was commissioned by mobile and social merchandising firm Zmags, also found that a large majority – 87 percent – choose a computer instead of a mobile device. Breaking down that number suggests that consumers are still early in the adoption curve, however, since 53 percent of shoppers for electronics prefer to use a tablet. That’s higher than shoppers in any other category. And despite what spammers seem to think, medication is the category consumers are least likely to purchase online regardless of how they’re going online.

Taking a step back to look at ecommerce overall reveals that the average connected consumer is female (52 percent). More significantly, these people have a mean age of 40 and a mean household income of $63,000.

“The study clearly demonstrates that mobile and tablet apps, on their own, are just not meeting connected consumers’ browsing and purchasing needs in an increasingly complex retail landscape – and that browser-based commerce is their preference,” said W. Sean Ford, chief operating officer and chief marketing officer of Zmags. “For retailers and brands, there is enormous opportunity to capitalize on this complexity by designing engaging and consistent browser-based shopping experiences optimized for each device.”

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Full report is here –

Photo by Flickr user MIKI Yoshihito, used under Creative Commons license

Click here [jpg] to see a large report summary infographic.