When shopping, more people look to their smartphone

3/17/2011

Last year, the de rigueur shopping accessory was the reusable shopping bag. Now, consumers are bringing along one more essential item.

Their smartphone.

New survey data from U.S. research firms iModerate and Chadwick Martin Bailey, finds that over half of people who own a smartphone, such as an iPhone or Blackberry, use it to help them shop.

As might be expected, younger shoppers are most likely to take along their smartphone. Sixty-seven per cent of those under 35 use one to help them buy.

Meanwhile, 33 per cent of those over 50 rely on a smartphone and 51 per cent of those between 35 and 49 years of age use one.

Most people (66 per cent) say they use their smartphone to compare prices, while 58 per cent also use it to check for discounts and locate a store. Just under half (49 per cent) grab their phone to read reviews, while 46 per cent use it to look at a competitive product or service.

The study, done in the U.S. in January, involved interviews with some 1,500 consumers. It’s worth pointing out the study was not done specifically on how people use smartphones in grocery stores, but rather overall shopping.

The authors of the survey do have some suggestions for retailers on how to deal with the smartphone phenomenon. They suggests relying more on store brand products, which are difficult to compare head-on to brands sold at another retailer.

They also urge retailers to create their own smartphone apps to both enhance the store experience and alert customers to promotions.

“Along with designs for packaging, displays, and signage, we will see smartphone-based communication as a necessary element of retail planning,” said Jeff McKenna a senior consultant for Chadwick Martin Bailey.

They also advise retailers to train staff. “In all cases, retailers and manufacturers must prepare in-store associates to recognize the ‘mobile shopper’ and empower them to address the inevitable questions about price, features and availability,” the report stated.

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