November 20, 2013, 2:37 PM

A merry mobile shopping season lies ahead

23% of consumers would be comfortable buying all holiday gifts from a smartphone.

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‘Tis the season for shopping from a smartphone: 23% of U.S. consumers say they would feel comfortable buying all their holiday gifts from a smartphone this year, up from 16% in 2012, according to a survey by shopping web site PriceGrabber. Additionally, 60% of smartphone shoppers in the survey say they are unsure whether they prefer mobile web sites and apps for purchasing and searching for gifts, while 33% say they definitely prefer mobile sites and 7% say they prefer apps.

PriceGrabber surveyed 3,782 U.S. adults online from Oct. 17 to Oct. 31 about how they plan to shop for the holidays this year.

“As retailers have created a more streamlined mobile shopping experience, consumers are getting more comfortable making purchases,” Rojeh Avanesian, senior vice president of marketing at PriceGrabber, says. “Shoppers are looking for deals on items less than $100 and purchasing less expensive items through mobile, while they do research on more expensive items, such as appliances, on their computers.” 

The survey supports Avanesian’s comments.  Most smartphone shoppers in the survey, 71%, say they would buy books, CDs, DVDs or video games from a smartphone; while 70% say they would buy clothing and 59% say shoes.

The survey also revealed that 72% of U.S. mobile shoppers have between one and four shopping-related apps on their smartphones, and 23% plan to download at least one more to help them with holiday gift buying this year. The types of apps they plan to download are coupon apps (61%), comparison shopping apps (55%), retailers’ apps (54%), Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday deal-seeking apps (50%) and bar code scanning apps (44%), which shoppers can use on items in stores to pull up more information about them.

Department store chain Macy’s Inc. is one retailer that is preparing for more app users this holiday season. Macy’s has installed a wireless transmitter tool called shopBeacon in two of its stores that pushes special deals and offers to a shopper in the store who has the shopkick app on her iPhone. For instance, when she walks through the door, she might receive a coupon for 10% off a sweater that she previously expressed interest in when browsing Macys.com on her computer. Or, when she walks by the shoe department, the app might alert her that certain boots she likes are on sale.

Shopkick is a loyalty shopping app used by such retailers as Macy’s, No. 12 in the 2013 Top 500 Guide; Target Corp., No. 18; Best Buy Co., No. 10; and J.C. Penney Co. Inc., No. 34. With the transmitter, it can identify shopkick users and send them offers in the store even if they do not have the app open, it says.

Shoppers who don’t make a purchase from their smartphones this holiday season are still likely to turn to their phones to help them make buying decisions. More than half—53%—of shoppers in another survey, by mobile marketing technology provider Vibes, say the No. 1 way they’ll use smartphones this holiday season is to look up product information. 34% say they’ll use the devices as mobile wallets to organize coupons and loyalty cards, and 32% say they’ll make purchases from a mobile web site via a smartphone.

Vibes surveyed 1,000 U.S. adult smartphone owners online in August about their holiday shopping plans.

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