Giving gone smart: Taking on holiday buying with smartphones

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 18 2012 6:30 a.m. MST

During this holiday season, 19.8 percent of tablet owners projected they would redeem coupons via their device, while 44.2 percent will research and compare prices using their tablet, according to research done by the National Retail Foundation, said Edwards.

This year, 53 percent of smartphone owners are projected to use their phone for research on gifts.

"You've got sites like Amazon that are offering a downloadable application where mobile device owners can download useful tools on their device to enhance their shopping experience online, where you can price check anything," Edwards said.

Brick-and-mortar stores are now more prone to experience "show-rooming," where the customer comes in to look around and is looking everything up online at the same time to find the best prices for products they find in the store, then going to order it online, she said. Many businesses are responding with price matching, if a customer finds a better price online with their phone.

Click it, buy it

"We've long-known that free shipping is the name of the game when locking in the online transactions," Edwards said. "It used to be used as a promotion, now it's a regular thing that consumers are coming to expect; the consumer is responding to these changes, and the retailers are responding."

The NRF has estimated that retailers overall will have a 4.1 percent growth in sales during the holiday season this year, with a 12 to 15 percent growth in online sales. The fact that the most significant sales growth continues to be online is important for retailers to understand and respond to, Edwards said.

The convenience factor of modern-day shopping comes into play when the Amazon website app can show Kuhn numerous other prices for the sweater she holds in her hands in the middle of a department store. Especially when it tells her she can get it purchased and shipped directly to her house for cheaper.

"I actually use it frighteningly regularly," Kuhn said of the Amazon app. "I do use my phone to price-check things as well. If I am in the store I use it to check things out."

Numerous factors continue to push online shopping into the limelight of the holidays. However Edwards doesn't not see the growth of mobile and online shopping as the product of successful advertising, but as more of a shift in the way people want to shop, and how retailers react.

"I don't think marketing and advertising is driving sales, it's a response to the consumer," she said. "We know consumers are going to shop, we want to make good profit and they can get the goods they need — it's the name of the game.

"Shopping is just kind of fun, especially with these new mobile devices and apps. And competition between retailers makes it a good experience for the consumers," Edwards said. "I think it's a win for the consumer."

Mandy Morgan is an enterprise intern for the Deseret News, reporting on values in the media. She is a true-blue Aggie, studying Journalism and Political Science at Utah State University, and hails from Highland, Utah.

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