July 31, 2014, 12:29 PM

Smartphone users in stores compare prices, read reviews and do much more

Yes, U.S. smartphone users are showrooming for better deals online, but they are also doing many other things to help them decide whether to make a purchase in-store, a study finds.

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Many U.S. smartphone usersare price-sensitive shoppers, using their devices while in stores to see if they can get a better deal elsewhere, particularly online. But many smartphone owners use their devices to do deeper research on products while in the aisles, not necessarily looking for a better deal but simply looking to inform their buying decisions, decisions that may very well lead to making a purchase in stores.

36% of U.S. smartphone users in stores use their devices to compare prices, and 16% conduct specific searches for or directly access online retailers, finds a study of 3,598 smartphone users by mobile and web measurement firm comScore Inc., consultancy The E-tailing Group, and shipper UPS. All of this activity clearly is showrooming, which in this case is the use of mobile devices to compare prices and offers while in a store.

However, smartphone users engage in a variety of activities that show they are seeking additional information of some kind to help them decide whether to buy a product they’re looking at in the aisles of a store, according to the study, including:

  • Read customer reviews, 27%.
  • Call, e-mail or text friends and family to request feedback, 23%.
  • Read product details, 22%.
  • Scan a QR code, 18%.
  • Check in-stock status at that retailer’s other stores or web site, 17%.

9% of U.S. smartphone users place orders on their devices in stores, though the study did not ask if those orders were placed with the retailer whose store a customer was in or with a competing retailer. 14% of smartphone users take pictures of products when in stores, the study also finds.

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