Consumers are increasingly likely to trust information that they glean from their smartphone rather than from an actual shop assistant when making a purchase.
This growing trend — according to the Consumer Electronics Association 58% of US consumers with smartphones admit to doing it — is most acute among 25- to 44-year-old men and is most common when the purchase in question is an electronic device.
When sizing up a new tech purchase, 60% of shoppers say that they turn to their handset for assistance, while 55% say that their smartphone helps them when shopping in physical stores for groceries.
What's more, 47% admit to similar behaviour while clothes shopping, 45% do so when looking for new shoes and 39% when choosing health and beauty products.
The CES report Enhancing the In-Store CE Retail Experience Using Mobile Devices finds that 62% of mobile shoppers — i.e., those armed with a smartphone or tablet when walking the aisles — have more faith in the information that they get via a mobile web search or an app than from in-store sales literature or product displays.
"Mobile devices have significantly shifted consumers' shopping behaviour," said Steve Koenig, director of industry analysis, CEA. "Retailers are increasingly focusing on delivering a complete consumer shopping experience and mobile devices are now a vital piece of that puzzle."
For those that run to a smartphone for retail guidance, the most common action is a general Internet search (69%). Just over half (52%) visit a store-specific website, 47% use a particular shop's smartphone or tablet app and 46% say that they will check a specific manufacturer's website.
When shopping for an electronic device, comparing prices (63%), reading ratings and reviews (52%) and internet searches for further information (51%) are the most common smartphone actions.
However, the smartphone isn't replacing the traditional relationship that a shop attempts to nurture with its customers. Of the shoppers surveyed by the CES, 81% said that they would be prepared to share personal data with a retailer in return for special offers or other benefits.
Consumers are most comfortable with sharing their physical location (48%), followed by their user profile (46%) and personal contact details (40%).
"In a very short amount of time, a majority of Americans now own mobile devices and just as quickly, those mobile devices have become the viewfinders of Americans' digital lives," said Shawn DuBravac, Ph.D., chief economist, CEA.
"We are now seeing this trend influence shopping habits, especially among tech purchases. Retailers are beginning to respond to consumers' shifting habits, and that is especially true this holiday shopping season with increased focus on retailer apps." — AFP/Relaxnews 2014