June 26, 2009, 12:00 AM

A mobile phone can lead a shopper out one store and into another

Retailers beware: Mobile comparison shopping puts the power of e-commerce in consumers` hands. Shoppers can use comparison sites or check the mobile sites of other retailers to find out which merchant has the lowest price—then shop there.

Comparing prices among numerous retailers while standing in one retailer’s bricks-and-mortar store is one of the big promises of mobile commerce. In fact, some consumers are already doing it. Mobile comparison shopping lets a shopper rest assured she is getting the best price where she’s shopping, or pushes her to an m-commerce site or the store of another retailer.

Research shows an increasing number of shoppers conducting product searches prior to going out to shop, and that shoppers who have conducted product searches online are more likely to find and buy the product they are looking for.

“Mobile comparison shopping combines the in-store experience, where shoppers can touch, see and feel products, with the online experience, where they can find more product information along with the lowest prices,” said Ted Baltuch, founder of comparison shopping site Barcle.com, at the M-commerce Workshop at this year’s Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition.

Some experts point to the routine mobile web activities of users today as a sign of things to come for comparison shopping.

“Checking weather, getting driving directions, reading news, buying movie tickets, doing online banking-these are the most routine things mobile consumers are doing today,” said Darren Davis, vice president of product marketing at PriceGrabber.com, who also spoke at the workshop. “Comparison shopping use will only grow as yet another one of these routines.”

Comparison shopping is being done, he concluded, just not as well as it will be in a couple of years.

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