Smartphones Impacting Consumer Shopping Habits: IDC

Nearly 70 percent say a smartphone is a critical tool that allows them to have a better shopping experience, the IDC report found.

The smartphone is enabling shoppers to be more informed and more confident in their shopping decisions, as many consumers reach out to their trusted social networks while shopping, according to a report from IT research firm International Data Corporation (IDC).

Survey respondents indicated the smartphone is transforming the shopping experience. Of those surveyed, 69 percent agree with the idea that the smartphone is a critical tool that allows them to have a better shopping experience, compared to only 12 percent who disagree.

Additionally, seven in 10 agreed with the statement, "I plan to use my smartphone more to help my shopping experience in the coming year," compared to only 11 percent of respondents who disagree.

"The smartphone is at the center of our lives, with most of us unable to be without it for even a couple of hours,” Allan Fromen, vice president and consulting partner for IDC's global Buyer Behavior Practice, said in a statement. "By combining the insights from both the survey and mobile behavioral data, it is clear that, for a significant number of us, the smartphone is now also a critical shopping tool, our own personal concierge to help us shop intelligently."

Seventy percent of respondents said they check prices using their smartphones, and half said they check reviews from their smartphones. One in five survey respondents bought from a competitor while they were shopping in a retail store this holiday season.

The survey also indicated these savvy smartphone shoppers could pose a challenge to traditional brick-and-mortar establishments: About one-third of respondents said they purchased much more online versus in a retail store this year compared to last year.

In addition to the survey, IDC analyzed the app and mobile Web activity of more than 10,000 smartphone users during the holiday shopping season. Among retailers, Amazon dominated, with far more consumers accessing its app, mobile Website or both, than any other retailer.

"Given Amazon's breadth of products, its reputation for low prices, robust product reviews and personalized recommendations, it makes sense that Amazon is the leader among smartphone users," Danielle Levitas, group vice president and general manager of mobility, digital media and consumer for IDC, said in a statement.

A December report from Apigee suggested the importance of retailers providing feature-rich mobile apps to consumers, with 38 percent of smartphone owners employing shopping apps at least once a week.

More than half (53 percent) of smartphone users use apps to buy products online while in another store, and 66 percent of smartphone owners say they're more likely to shop at a store that offers an app with a searchable product catalog, featured sales and a store locator.