How Smartphones are Influencing Your In-Store Purchases

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

The rise of smartphone ownership and price-comparison apps served as the catalyst for consumers who compare prices while they shop for their next big purchase.  With a quick bar code scan, savvy shoppers are able to look up online pricing, products reviews and alternative options for the product or service they are shopping for. According to a recent Pew Research Study, during a 30 day period before and after Christmas:

  • 38% of cell owners used their phone to call a friend while they were in a store for advice about a purchase they were considering making
  • 24% of cell owners used their phone to look up reviews of a product online while they were in a store
  • 25% of adult cell owners used their phones to look up the price of a product online while they were in a store, to see if they could get a better price somewhere else

What is even more interesting is how prevalent “comparison shopping” is among the college student demographic:

  • Cell owners ages 18-49 are significantly more likely to use their phones for online product reviews than are cell owners ages 50 and older.
  • Urban and suburban cell owners are roughly twice as likely as rural cell owners to have recently used their phone to look up online reviews of a product they found in a physical store.
  • Those who have attended college are more likely to look up online reviews than those who have not.

Some retail stores are combating this trend through various positioning strategies. For example, Target collaborates with other big brands to come up with exclusive products that you can’t buy anywhere else. Nordstrom offers free shipping if you buy something in a store or online. Macy’s and Old Navy send in-store only coupons. Sears stresses the immediate gratification and some smaller independent stores are providing an edge through value added services with purchases, such as including free maintenance and extended warranties on tech gadgets.

Share in the comments section how your store is dealing with this showrooming trend.

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