Report: New apps and mobile devices drive online shopping decisions back into stores

New York City -- New shopping apps, mobile technologies and social media rewards are moving buying decisions back into the stores, according to WSL/Strategic Retail. The finding are part of the company’s Buzz to Buy 2.0 trend report, its second annual survey measuring how the power of Social Media and online information are impacting buying decisions.

“For the first time in many years, retailers are getting ahead of the trend, and the shopper, by introducing new mobile apps that create fun, entertaining and promotion-driven experiences at the malls and in the stores,” said Wendy Liebmann, CEO of WSL/Strategic Retail. “By using mobile technology to access flash offers, search best deals and earn rewards shoppers are, once again, able to make purchase decisions in-store, rather than online at home.”

Significant findings of the report include:

Smartphones get shoppers off the couch. Approximately half of all smartphone owners use their device while shopping in-store. This finding is up 21 percentage points from last year’s survey, and has become a significant game changer in the way retailers do business. More than half of those who use mobile for shopping are comparing prices (56%), taking pictures of products (53%), and finding coupons and discounts (46%).

Shopping: There’s an App for that. Shopping apps now rank among the top five categories downloaded, with nearly half (46%) of those who download apps choosing a shopping related one.  Even better news for retailers, shopping apps are now being used in stores by shoppers looking to receive in-store alerts to deals and sales (35%), reading QR codes or bar codes for product information (33%), and helping to navigate the store (28%).

I’ll “like” it for a reward. Shoppers expect to find deals and rewards when they “like” a brand or store on Social Networking Sites (SNS) such as Facebook and Twitter. Members searching for discounts or coupons increased 31% over last year’s findings, while those looking to gain exclusive member-only benefits rose by 50%. In contrast, the percentage of those using SNS to search for product information and reviews remained flat (at a mere 14%).

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