December 15, 2010, 9:46 AM

Consumers are hunting for bargains from their smartphones, says Google

Searches for promo codes and free shipping offers are up from a year ago.

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22% of online mobile phone owners using a smartphone, according to a recent Forrester Research Inc. report. And consumers are using those devices to search for bargains this holiday season, says Dan Schock, Google Inc. retail industry director.

This holiday season shopping-related Google searches from mobile devices are up 230%, says the search giant. Those include searches related to stores, products and prices.

“Since Black Friday we’ve seen that there are two types of searches that people are doing from their phones,” says Schock. “People who are buying online who are searching for a coupon code or free shipping code and people who are going to a store and are looking for printable coupons and store directions.”

The most popular product categories that consumers are searching for are the same regardless of device, he says. Those are apparel, consumer electronics, footwear and jewelry.

With the deadline for guaranteed Christmas delivery fast approaching, consumers are also increasingly scouring the web from their computers for items they know will arrive in time for the holiday.

That’s why Google searches for “last minute deals” are up 40% this December compared to the comparable time period a year ago. And searches for “Guaranteed Christmas delivery” have jumped 15%.

“As of Dec. 1 our research showed that 88% of consumers had started their Christmas shopping—but they had half of their purchases still to be made,” says Schock. “Now they’re getting close to the deadline to ensure delivery by Christmas day so they want to make sure their purchases are here in time.”

That focus on when an item can be delivered hasn’t stopped consumers from looking for deals—in a variety of ways, he says.

For instance, searches for “Bogo” which is a condensed form of buy one, get one free, has jumped 20% compared to a year ago. And “free shipping code” and “promo code” are both up about 10%. Consumers are also using the web to research items they plan to purchase at a bricks-and-mortar store, as searches for “printable coupons” are up 15%, says Schock.

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