November 12, 2012, 12:21 PM

68% of smartphone owners will use their devices for holiday shopping

In-store conversion rate is higher for shoppers who use a retailer’s mobile app, Deloitte finds.

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Retailers with mobile commerce sites and apps may benefit from shoppers armed with smartphones this holiday season, according to Deloitte LLP’s annual holiday survey of consumer spending intentions and trends.

50% of consumers surveyed own smartphones, and 68% plan to use their phones for holiday shopping this year. These shoppers will primarily use their devices to get store locations (62%), check and compare prices (58%) and obtain product information (50%), the survey says.

Smartphone-toting holiday shoppers may be highly valuable to retailers this season. These consumers are expected to spend 72% more than those who do not plan to use smartphones, spending a total $1,428 on the holidays across categories including gifts, entertaining at home, socializing away from home, non-gift clothing, home/holiday furnishings and other holiday spending.

“We anticipate that retailers will increasingly interact with mobile shoppers this holiday season,” says Alison Paul, vice chairman of Deloitte and retail and distribution sector leader. “Deloitte’s research into smartphones’ influence on in-store sales indicates that the conversion rate for shoppers who use a retailer’s dedicated mobile application is 21% higher than those who do not. This holiday season, branded applications, Wi-Fi connectivity and personalized, location-based promotions from retailers can enable shoppers to make an immediate buying decision in the store.”

This data show that retailers with mobile offerings can counter the effects of showrooming, the practice of using a smartphone to check prices in a store but buy a product online.

This year, Deloitte anticipates that in-store sales influenced by consumers’ smartphone use will account for $36 billion, or 5.1% of total holiday retail store sales.

The survey also looked beyond mobile commerce at web shopping in general. 45% of consumers surveyed plan to shop online for holiday gifts. 55% indicate they often read online reviews before buying holiday merchandise online, and 28% say they will rely on reviews more this year than last year.

48% of the shoppers surveyed will make social media part of their holiday shopping process. Among this group, more than half will tap into social networks to look for discounts (54%) and research gift ideas (53%), while 47% plan to read reviews, the survey says.

When shopping online, 47% of consumers surveyed indicate that low prices are most important when choosing among retailers. Online shoppers surveyed also expect some free perks: 71% of shoppers say they are more likely to shop online from retailers who offer free shipping, and 56% say the same about retailers who offer free returns.

67% of consumers surveyed expect to find out about the products they purchase this holiday season through combined online, social media and mobile formats, compared to 60% who will rely on traditional media such as radio, television and newspapers. 57% expect to learn about products this holiday season through friends and family, the survey says. Respondents could select more than one answer.

The survey polled 5,089 consumers in September.

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