Smartphones are such useful tools that it can sometimes be hard to imagine how we got by without them – and this is certainly the case when it comes to shopping for good deals.
Half of all shoppers regularly have their smartphones on hand to research products and look for better prices online when they are in a high street store.
A new study from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) described this trend as showrooming – and it is a particularly popular activity among younger shoppers.
The surprising thing is that this is not necessarily bad for retailers, as consumers do not typically go home without buying anything and ordering the product they want online.
Instead, shoppers are more likely to buy the product they have been researching in a physical store – just not always the one they were in when they started the search.
Young people aged 18 to 34-years-old were most likely to read an online product review on their smartphone, with 44 per cent of this age range identifying with the trend. This is a significantly larger proportion than the general average of 32 per cent.
The trend for doing a price check among this demographic was similar, with 42 per cent doing so instore compared to 33 per cent of the general population.
Those aged 35 to 54 are more likely to do this on a media tablet like the Apple iPad, with 40 per cent of this age range reading product reviews, locating nearby stores, checking shop opening hours and comparing prices, compared with an overall average of 35 per cent.
Senior vice-president of research, analytics and measurement at IAB Sherrill Mane emphasised the fact that the use of digital and mobile devices as a cornerstone of the overall shopping experience does differ between age groups. She said retailers will undoubtedly be keen to capitalise on this trend by striving to understand these distinctions.
Anna Bager, senior vice-president and general manager of mobile and video at IAB, suggested that this could lead to a slightly different festive shopping experience.
“With the holiday shopping season in full swing, consumers are turning to smartphones and tablets throughout the gift-buying process,” she commented.
“This report spotlights contrasts in how different generations shop on digital – significant differences that need to be considered in brand marketers’ strategies.”
There is no doubt that smartphones are transforming the day-to-day experience of shopping, regardless of whether this is for gifts at Christmas, new clothes, or the latest sales bargains.
Research published earlier this year by Zapp, in partnership with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), found that a fifth of all the average consumer’s online shopping now takes place on their commute to or from work.
CEBR managing economist Rob Harbron said: “People in Britain spend more online per head than any other nation and it seems our love affair with online shopping now also extends to the morning rush hour.”