October 26, 2011, 3:34 PM

Retailers beware: Santa has a smartphone, and he’s in your store

27% of smartphone owners will use their devices for holiday shopping, Deloitte says.

Bill Siwicki

Managing Editor, Mobile Commerce

Lead Photo

This holiday season, retailers may want to make sure they have a mobile commerce site that provides a great deal of information, not to mention products at the best prices, because millions of smartphone-toting shoppers will be on the hunt for everything from customer reviews to coupons to good deals, finds a new survey by research and consulting firm Deloitte.

Of the 42% of consumers who own a smartphone, 27% will use their device while shopping for the holidays, according to Deloitte’s 2011 Annual Holiday Survey of 5,000 U.S. consumers.

“The end result will be more price competition, but on a positive note, it will also mean a higher in-store conversion rate for retailers who are effectively delivering the right information or functionality to serve the customer in their shopping process,” says Kasey Lobaugh, direct-to-consumer and multichannel retail offering leader at Deloitte Consulting LLP. “For example, retailers that make reviews available, show inventory levels, or assist with buying guides or customer service options via mobile devices can influence the customer in the decision-making process and often right at the point of purchase.”

Consumers plan to use their smartphones for a wide variety of shopping activities. 67% will use their devices to find store locations, the survey finds. 59% to compare prices, 51% to obtain product information, 46% to check product availability, 45% to read reviews, 45% to shop online, 41% to find and use coupons, 40% to scan bar codes, and 35% to access social media.

“Retailers need to invest in providing customer connectivity in the store, including in-store Wi-Fi. Additionally, retailers need to invest in additional capabilities that serve the increasingly connected consumer, regardless of the shopper’s location,” Lobaugh says. “This means building functionality that best serves the customer at the ‘point of need’ and thinking about the capabilities that align with the customer’s location and context, as the customer may be in the store with a smartphone in hand or in a variety of other locations and scenarios.”

And whether it’s a mobile commerce site, a mobile app, 2-D bar codes such as QR codes, or in-store Wi-Fi, Lobaugh adds, retailers need to actively promote these offerings in stores so customers with smartphones know these tools are available.

The survey also found that smartphone shoppers tend to be men who make a sizable income. 46% of male U.S. consumers and 37% of females own a smartphone, the survey says. 31% of males who own smartphones and 24% of females who own smartphones plan to use their devices for holiday shopping. 37% of smartphone owners make less than $100,000 while 60% make more than $100,000, the survey finds. 3% did not answer. The median U.S. household income is about $50,000.

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