May 9, 2008, 12:00 AM

Consumers expect shopping will be a more connected experience by 2015

Most U.S. consumers expect that by 2015 they will be sharing ideas online with retailers, manufacturers and consumers and using their mobile phones more as a shopping tool, according to a survey by retail research and consulting firm TNS Retail Forward.

Most U.S. consumers expect that by 2015 they will be sharing ideas online with retailers, manufacturers and other consumers and using their mobile phones more as a shopping tool, according to a survey by retail industry research and consulting firm TNS Retail Forward. But consumers in some other countries, particularly China, are even more enthusiastic about changes in retail technology, according to the online survey of 4,600 primary household shoppers in eight countries.

For instance, 30% of U.S. respondents like the idea of joining online shopping communities to increase their buying power, 11% say they’re likely to do it and 75% expect such communities will exist by 2015. But 62% of Chinese consumers find the idea appealing, 40% are likely to use such communities and 95% expect to see them by 2015.

U.S. consumers especially look forward to addressing manufacturers directly about how products can be improved through web sites and online surveys. 38% find the idea appealing, 16% say they’re likely to do it and 80% expect to see it within seven years. “Consumers will not wait to be invited by manufacturers to collaborate-they will become vocal advocates of change,” says Mary Brett Whitfield, senior vice president of TNS Retail Forward. “So R&D; will actively engage the customer at a very early stage.”

Asked about social networks that provide information about the hottest stores and retail trends, 14% of U.S. consumers find the idea appealing, 5% would participate and 80% expect there will be such web sites in 2015.

As for using a mobile phone to place orders and arrange delivery, 22% of U.S. consumers find the idea appealing, 3% say they are likely to use such services and 74% expect to see them by 2015.

Somewhat less appealing is the idea of opting in to receive sale and product information by text message to a cell phone when walking near a favorite store. Only 13% of U.S. consumers find that idea appealing, 5% say they’re likely to participate and 77% expect to see it by 2015. “Retailers looking to rush ahead with mobile marketing should take note as there appears to be a lot of resistance out there,” says James Sorensen, executive vice president of TNS Retail & Shopper Insights. “This also raises questions of invasion of privacy, but I’d expect shoppers to accept more intrusive marketing techniques and strategies from retailers in future years.”

TNS conducted the survey in Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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