July 27, 2011, 5:19 PM

Back-to-school shopping means smartphones and social networks

Deloitte finds that consumers will use mobile devices to seek out price information.

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Smartphones and social networks will play prime roles in back-to-school shopping this year, according to a new survey from Deloitte LLP.

The consulting and accounting firm says that 64% of consumers with web-enabled smartphones will use the devices for back-to-school shopping; 61% will use their mobile devices to find the best prices for school products. 43% of consumers will use their smartphones to download discounts, coupons and sales information; 37% to locate a retail store; 29% to receive product information; and 25% to access a retailer’s web site.

“Price-conscious and time-constrained, consumers are navigating virtual and physical storefronts to get the information they want quickly and easily,” says Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and Deloitte’s retail & distribution sector leader. “Retailers need to respond with an integrated experience. In short, they must unite the store with their online and mobile channels to enable consumers to easily access product availability, promotions and information.”

Deloitte based its findings on surveys conducted between July 5 and July 11 of 1,000 parents of children in kindergarten through the 12th grade. The survey offered no historical data about smartphone use during the back-to-school shopping season.

But Deloitte did find that more consumers will turn to social networks this year for back-to-school shopping. 35% of parents who took part in the survey plan to use social networking sites during their shopping, up from 29% last year. Most parents—69%—will use social media to sniff out promotions, while 44% will use the likes of Facebook to browse products. 28% will seek out product reviews and recommendations via social media. 12% will watch product or retailer videos, while 9% say they will use social networks to post comments and reviews about back-to-school products. 

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