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Susan Ward

The New Reality: Christmas Shoppers With Mobiles

By December 11, 2013

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We see it all around us every time we go out the door. People using smartphones to do all kinds of things other than taking and making calls. But have you thought about how that behavior affects retail sales?

Young woman using a mobile phone.

The rise in mobile Internet access via smartphones has changed the pattern for research and shopping.

"Showrooming" has become popular. Instead of doing their research at home, then going to the one store they've preselected and probably making a purchase, shoppers are using their smartphones to check product availability, price, and reading online reviews while at the mall, standing in your store, or standing in your competitor's store - and then making their decision to buy what where depending on their research.

So it's important that you take steps to ensure you're reaching mobile-carrying shoppers.

One thing you can do is take advantage of the different ways that people of different ages and income groups use their mobiles to shop, according to the 2013 Holiday Trends Report - Mobile Apps, the latest quarterly report on online/retail shopping from CFI Group.

The study found that when a salesperson with a mobile device offers to help a shopper check prices, stock at other stores, reviews or find other information, about 10 percent of shoppers tune out the Web in favor of the real-world salesperson.

That leaves plenty of opportunity for retailers, as the study puts it it, to derail an online sales process by using information or mobile devices of their own to help shoppers make a decision - bearing in mind that different age groups and income earners will feel differently about the pro-offered help; older or wealthier shoppers are more likely to be appreciative.

Research by Deloitte suggests that customers using devices such as smartphones to research the products they might like to buy is driving spending in stores, and that the "multiplier effect" of that trend will double between 2010 and 2015. "So if you're a retailer now and you don't have a mobile strategy, I think it's time to get up to speed," says Alain Michaud, a Canadian retailing analyst at PwC in Montreal (CBC News).

Image (c) Peter Cade / Getty Images

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