Smartphones Become the Go-To Tool for Shoppers

By Mikal E. Belicove|For|February 28, 2012

Smartphones are giving new meaning to the term comparison shopping.

Whether they’re seeking lower prices or better terms on an item they see on a store shelf, consumers are quickly learning that their smartphone can be used for more industrious tasks than playing Words With Friends or snapping and posting photos on Facebook.

Last year, more than half of U.S. smartphone users performed retail research while inside a brick-and-mortar store, with nearly one in eight using their phone to compare prices in real time, according to comScore’s “2012 Mobile Future in Focus” report. Tack on the fact that 42 percent of mobile cell users in the U.S. own a smartphone, as do 44 percent of European mobile-phone users, and that little stat may amount to a big-business loss for your bricks-and-mortar store.

As smartphone adoption becomes more widespread, consumers are presented with mobile buying power once restricted to the home or work computer. Freed from the shackles of a desktop, shoppers can now stroll right into your operation, pull out their smartphone and start some serious comparative shopping. They can scan your merchandise, read reviews, ask friends for recommendations and share with you what they’ve found. And if they’re not satisfied with your response, they locate a business that has better prices or service.

What this means for small-business owners is you and your staff have to get in front of smartphone-wielding consumers, ask a shopper if they’re comparison shopping and offer a solution if it makes sense to do so. Conversely, rewarding shoppers who learn about your products or services through a mobile device may earn you a customer and their recommendation for life.

Among other findings in the comScore report:

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