Perspectives, News & Opinions From The Researchers At Edison

The New Holiday Shopping Experience

Entry by Melissa DeCesare | Monday, December 17th, 2012 | Permalink

The holiday season is often a mixed bag of fun and stress, with festive gatherings, decorations and finding the “perfect gift.”   However, with the highs come the lows, including those dreaded trips to crowded stores with lists and coupons in search of the best deal.  Today, mobile technology is changing that.   For busy, smartphone Santas (aka parents), this approach could be true holiday joy.

Smartphone owners are tech savvy–they know what their technology can do and they embrace it, especially in high pressure situations.  It is not surprising, then, that according to the 2012 Deloitte Holiday Survey, 68% of smartphone owners plan to use their devices for holiday shopping  to enhance and improve their shopping experience.    Sixty-two percent said they will use their phones to find store locations, 58% said they would do price comparisons and half of respondents said they would search for product information.

Retailers, too, are embracing the mobile shopping experience, with many adding Wi-Fi services in store to better allow for connectivity. In some cases, retailers are also using mobile technology to offer coupons and deals to shoppers who scan promotional barcodes.   This is one way to engage the consumer in a way that is seemingly more personal.  Anyone can clip a coupon from the newspaper, but to get that special deal, you need to know to scan the code with your phone.  The customer has just become exclusive.

Through these efforts, the retailer ultimately wants to keep the shopper in their store and fight against showrooming – the process of browsing items on the shelf and then going online and ordering the item for a lower price.    If the user’s mobile experience at a retailer is pleasant and memorable, the shopper is less likely to go elsewhere or pull up a rival store’s app while shopping in that store.   The goal: to create a bond with the brand and a more loyal customer.  For the shopper, these initiatives allow for a faster exchange of information about price, product features, ratings and availability.  In some cases, the shopper can actually use their smartphone to check out and avoid long lines.

We know from our own research that smartphone ownership continues to rise, especially among moms. According to the Moms and Media 2012 report from earlier this year, 61% of moms own a smartphone, up from 36% in 2011.  As we prepare to field the 2013 research after the new year, I have to imagine that number will climb even higher.  As more moms adopt smartphones, the mobile shopping experience should also continue to evolve in order to serve not only that demographic, but all smartphone users.  With the hustle and bustle of shopping, anything that makes the process more efficient will be accepted and utilized, particularly during the holiday season, leaving more time for baking and wrapping.  Now if only we could have a smartphone fix for that too…

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