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Mobile apps bringing shopping back to stores

05 january 2012

New shopping applications, mobile technologies and social media rewards are moving buying decisions back into brick-and-mortars, according to WSL/Strategic Retail, a provider of shopper behavior and retail trends. This is disclosed by in an article posted on December 7, 2011.

This information was revealed as part of WSL’s “Buzz to Buy 2.0” trend report, an annual survey in its second year that measures 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,” Wendy Liebmann, CEO of WSL/Strategic Retail said. “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.”

The report found that approximately half of all smartphone owners use their device while shopping in-store, a 21 percent increase from 2010. Those who use mobile for shopping are comparing prices (56 percent), taking pictures of products (53 percent) and finding coupons and discounts (46 percent).

Shopping apps now rank among the top five categories downloaded, according to WSL, with 46 percent of app users choosing a shopping-related one. Shopping apps are also now being used in stores or by shoppers looking to receive in-store alerts to deals and sales (35 percent), reading QR codes and barcodes for product information (33 percent) and helping to navigate the store (28 percent).

The report also found that shoppers expect to find deals and rewards when they “like” a brand or store on a social networking site such as Facebook and Twitter. Users searching for discounts or coupons increased 31 percent over 2010, while those looking to gain exclusive member-only benefits rose by 50 percent.

“The savviest retailers are using mobile technology to maximize shopper engagement at every point of contact,” Candace Corlett, WSL/Strategic Retail president, said. “Integrating it into sales service, providing Facebook and Twitter followers with exclusive ‘members only’ rewards, and creating apps that are both exciting and efficient are the new keys to driving traffic and sales at retail.”

Despite discount-searching increases, the percentage of people using social networking sites to search for product information and reviews remained flat at 14 percent.

WSL/Strategic Retail conducted an internet survey from Sept.8-12, including 1,702 respondents recruited from an online panel of shoppers aged 15 and older. All participants are active Internet users who have completed at least one online shopping or social networking activity within the past month.

Founded in 1986, WSL/Strategic Retail tracks the mindset, attitude and behavior that shapes shopper trends and predicts how they transform retailers throughout the United States.