Are SmartPhones Making Us Smarter Shoppers?

Not so long ago, comparison shopping required actually going to several stores or sifting through every circular in the Sunday paper. And even as at-home internet access became commonplace, that didn’t really help if you’d gone to the store without doing the legwork in advance. But the rapid growth of web-enabled phones could be leading to better retail prices and more informed consumers.

A recent Wall Street Journal story cites some interesting statistics to lend credence to this theory. First, there’s the report by Coremetrics that says the number of customers using mobile devices to access retail websites on Black Friday in 2010 was more than 50 times greater than just a year earlier.

Second, the Journal quotes a retail consultant as saying that 45% of smartphone users had used their mobile devices for purposes of comparison shopping.

With this increasing transparency for prices, retailers may be forced to either cut prices to keep customers in the store or offer items that can’t be purchased elsewhere.

Many stores have already put an end to the practice of offering a lower online price than you’d get at a retail location. “Those days are over,” says the president of “The line between offline and online has been blurred.”

Some retailers are attempting to use smartphones to their advantage. For example, Best Buy has partnered with a price comparison app so that whenever someone searches for something at Walmart that could also be purchased at Best Buy, the user will be shown ads for these comparable BB products.

“That is an opportunity to steal a sale right when someone is in the throes of making a decision. That is what makes mobile so powerful,” says Best Buy Chief Marketing Officer.

Have you been using your smartphone to compare prices this holiday season?

Phone-Wielding Shoppers Strike Fear Into Retailers [WSJ]

Thanks to Lyn for the tip!

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.