52% of 2011 holiday shoppers used cell phones in-store

Nathan Pensky · January 30, 2012 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/23f2

More than half of holiday shoppers used their mobile devices to help inform their retail purchases

Remember a few months ago when Amazon ran that promotion through its Price Check app, where if shoppers compared Amazon prices with those of brick and morter retail stores, Amazon would offer a 5% discount on selected items? Well, it seems that the practice of using smart phones while shopping is catching on in a big way.

The Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life project released a study Monday, which found that 52% of holiday shoppers used their mobile devices while shopping. 33% of holiday shoppers used their cell phones while actually browsing products in-store.

However, price checking in the manner suggested by Amazon was only the second most practiced activity by holiday shopppers. 38% of shoppers used their cell phones while shopping to phone a friend to ask about their prsopective purchase, 25% compared  prices, and 24% looked up online reviews of a given product. Data was collected during a 30-day period before and after Christmas.

The way the age demographics broke down in the study was fairly predictably. Of those who looked up product reviews online, 75% were in the 18-49 age range. Only 4% of people 65+ did this. Also somewhat predictable, people in urban and suburban areas were twice as likely to look up reviews for products online than those in rural areas.

These are just further indications of the world going increasingly mobile.

IBM Research published a study in early January 2012 that showed that the percentage of holiday shoppers who made their purchases online was well over double the amount from 2010. 14.6% of holiday 2011 shoppers initiated their purchase from a mobile device, as opposed to only 5.6% in 2010.

One look at the robust competition, in both the tablet and smart phone markets, onlyfurther  confirms those predictions of many in the tech community claiming we're headed for a "Post-PC era." In the tablet, sector, the Kindle Fire has performed well, though it is iPad numbers that are really getting those Post-PC tongues wagging.

One analyst, Jordan Rohan of Stifel Nicloaus, has projected that Amazon sold 6 million Kindle Fires during its Q4. While impressive, the staggering 15.43 million iPads sold by Apple during Q4, which represents an 111% jump in sales over the previous year, are the real Post-PC benchmark. In terms of platforms, iOS and Android-based tablets are more equally matched, with Apple holding 57.6% of the market share and Android, 39.1%.

Other data shows that tablet sales are likely to continue to grow, especially in emerging markets. A new study from NPD projects that tablet shipments will grow from the 72.7 million in 2011 to 383.3 million by 2017, with emerging markets accounting for 46% of the 2017 tablet sales, as opposed to their current 36% of current sales.

The bottom line is that, as the world increasingly goes mobile, business practices like those reflected in Amazon's Price Check app promotion will become more likely, and brick and morter retailers will have to learn to adapt to this reality.

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