March 14, 2011, 2:49 PM

Smartphone owners like to scan and save, study finds

Bar code scanning and discount apps are the most popular mobile features, research finds.

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 Smartphone owners are realizing the power of the mobile app to both gather information about products and services and save, a new poll from Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies finds.

A poll of 1,491 U.S. adults finds of those who have used a smartphone app or mobile browser while shopping, 44% have used a bar code scanning app such as RedLaser or ShopSavvy that lets them compare prices and learn more about products and services in stores. 38% have used a discount or deal app such as those from Groupon or LivingSocial that offer deep discounts, typically on local goods.

Location-based shopping apps such as foursquare and shopkick came in last among the shopping-related apps mobile shoppers employed, with 13% reporting using them.

The research also finds nearly a quarter of smartphone owners use their devices to make a purchase. 23% of all adults polled who own smartphones say they have bought with the devices. Men buy more often from their smartphones than women at 27% and 19% respectively. By age, those under 35 buy via mobile the most at 28%, while 23% of those 35 to 49 do so and 10% of those 50 and over say they use their devices to make a purchase.

When it comes to the most popular device for purchasing, the iPhone ranks first with 41% of owners saying they buy with their iPhone. Android follows with 25%, while 11% of BlackBerry owners say they buy with their mobile device. More than 70% of iPhone owners use their device in some form while shopping, the highest percentage of any mobile device.

“Marketers, retailers and manufacturers need to stay ahead of the curve and proactively prepare and implement a mobile shopping plan,” the study says.

While it says marketers are just scratching the surface of mobile, it predicts a few trends for the future of mobile shopping. Some marketers may fight the ability to compare prices from smartphones in stores by offering store-branded goods that can’t be found anywhere else, by bundling products, or by having customers customize and build their own products, making it difficult to truly compare prices, the study states.

Others will embrace mobile apps and use them to improve the shopping experience by informing shoppers of pricing specials and key product benefits, by offering mobile shopping and wish lists, and by delivering rewards and broader and deeper product information via mobile.

“In all cases, retailers and manufacturers must prepare in-store associates to recognize mobile shoppers and empower them to address the inevitable questions about price, features and availability,” the study says.


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