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Smart Shoppers Use Smartphones

For the past two decades, the Internet has made digitally driven consumers into more savvy shoppers. However, when we compare last year’s recession shopper to this year’s economically conscious, Smartphone-carrying, internet-ready 24/7/365 shopper, it will be interesting to see how mobile commerce and/or applications will begin to affect holiday shopping habits.

Bloomberg predicts that by the year 2015, mobile commerce will grow into a $119 billion global industry, so why not get ahead of the curve and see what’s available to us now …

Online marketplaces from eBay to Amazon, search engines like Google and even location-based technologies offer mobile applications and tools to help shoppers find the product that’s right for them, for the best price around. Since we’re in the start of holiday “shopping season,” let’s use some unique shopping scenarios to see how mobile apps could help holiday shoppers.

Holiday Shopping Dilemma #1:
“While deciding on 20 different colors of sweaters for a present for Aunt Susie, I just don’t know if fluorescent orange is her color.”

Don’t fret, eBay’s Fashion App allows you to superimpose that fluorescent orange sweater on a photo of Aunt Susie – all while on your phone. It turns out that fluorescent orange is NOT Aunt Susie’s best color. One swipe to the next sweater and you find out that she’s much more of a burnt-orange kind of gal.

Holiday Shopping Dilemma #2:
“It’s Black Friday at the mall and I find myself being shoved by crazy shoppers and having an anxiety attack due to the 25-person checkout line.”

This is a perfect stealth mission for Google’s Shopper App (available on the Android). Quickly snap a photo of cover art or scan a bar code of the product you have in mind. Plan your exit route from the mall and ta-da, you have a list of the products you have to buy with extensive product information, as well as a detailed price comparison. And next time, don’t even bother going to the mall! The Shopper App even uses voice recognition and search to find the products you’re looking for.

Holiday Shopping Dilemma #3:
“I clipped all my holiday shopping coupons and even printed some email offers. Now that I’ve driven an hour away, I realize my coupons are at home on the kitchen counter.”

You get an A for effort and an F for eco-friendliness. Simply check in to your location on your Smartphone. Use location-based technology like FourSquare, SCVNGR, etc., to see specific location-based offers within proximity of your mobile device. Just hold your phone up to the cashier and expect to hear, “cha-ching.”

While it is yet to be determined which tools consumers will really find useful in their daily lives, it will be quite interesting to see how mobile commerce plays out this holiday season and in the next few years.

Have you heard of any other innovative examples where companies are using mobile technology this holiday season?

Which, if any, of these mobile technologies do you predict will become mainstream?

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