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Back to school shoppers using smartphones more than ever

August 21, 2013

The back to school shopping rush is a yearly tradition, but recent studies suggest that American consumers may be approaching their purchases in a different way this year.

The back to school shopping rush is a yearly tradition, but recent studies suggest that American consumers may be approaching their purchases in a different way this year. Findings suggest that customers are expecting more out of the online merchant account services offered to them by retailers, and that they’ll turn to competitors if they provide optimized e-commerce services. Virtual credit card terminals are no longer enough to satisfy consumers – now the entire shopping process must be filtered through a smartphone. 

Many consumers are aiding their back to school purchases with the help of e-commerce services, according to a study from PriceGrabber. The firm found that nearly 80 percent of respondents planned to find the majority of the information they needed to make their purchases through retailer emails, websites, and blog posts. 

“Back-to-school consumers are innovative and resourceful shoppers who are helping to shape the way retailers market their products,” said Sharon Banfield, director of public relations at PriceGrabber. “Like clockwork every fall, parents prepare for back-to-school and savvy consumers can easily identify the best deals through online resources.”

For many shoppers, the availability of online stores affects the way they search for the products they want. PriceGrabber noted that 57 percent of respondents will be trying harder to purchase products on sale when compared with their shopping experiences last year, and that 42 percent of respondents stated they plan to comparison shop. Online shopping is also sure to experience an uptick: 39 percent of those polled stated that they’ll be making purchases online more during this fall than they had during previous back to school shopping sessions.

Smartphones helped to contribute to the change in consumer preferences: 46 percent of back to school shoppers indicated that they’ll be using a smartphone to find deals this year, according to the report. It also noted that 67 percent of all mobile shoppers will compare prices online before they make a purchase, even if the purchase itself is made offline.

the widespread transition to mobile technology for retailers isn’t limited to the selling of products, either. A recent study from eDigitalResearch found that social media has replaced all other channels as the fastest and most reliable form of customer service for consumers, with 80 percent of respondents reporting that their retail concerns were alleviated in a timely manner when confronted via social media, as opposed to the 37 percent who reported being properly serviced after raising their concerns through e-mail. 

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