August 16, 2012, 1:02 PM

Mobile commerce goes back to school

Tablet and smartphone owners are comparing prices and buying via mobile, a survey finds.

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43.8% of U.S. tablet owners will use their tablets to research products and compare prices this back-to-school shopping season, according to a new National Retail Federation study conducted by BIGinsight. The survey also found that 28.4% of shoppers with children in grades K-12 will make a purchase with their tablet; slightly more, 34.5%, will purchase college items via their devices.

When it comes to smartphones in mobile commerce, one-third of K-12 shoppers and 31.5% of college shoppers will use their phones to research products and compare prices, while 19.2% of K-12 shoppers and 20.9% of college shoppers will buy products on their handheld devices, the survey finds.

Regarding payment, the survey says debit cards are the preferred payment method for back-to-school shoppers this summer. 42.5% with children in grades K-12 will use their debit cards most often, similar to the 39.4% of college students and their families. More than one-quarter, 28.4%, of those shopping for K-12 items prefer to use cash and another 25.6% prefer credit cards, the survey says. 29.4% of college shoppers prefer credit cards while 26.7% will use cash. 3.5% of K-12 shoppers and 4.5% of college shoppers prefer checks.

Of those consumers who have already begun shopping, 38.5% with children in grades K-12 say at least half of the school-related purchases they made were influenced by coupons, sales and promotions, the survey says. The number was virtually identical for college shoppers (38.6%).

The National Retail Federation is a retail trade organization. BIGinsight surveyed 8,509 U.S. consumers in July and August.

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