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IDC: smartphones play big role in retail
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IDC: smartphones play big role in retail 

Recent IDC research shows that Canadians are using their smartphones in greater numbers to make purchases. Leslie Hand, research director, IDC Retail Insights, shared the analyst firm’s findings on this development.

The report’s results show that Canadians view their smartphones as an integral part of the shopping experience. Seventy three percent of those surveyed said that they have called, texted or instant messaged someone to ensure that they were purchasing the correct item. Sixty six percent of respondents have used their smartphones to take pictures of a product and sent it to someone else. Sixty one percent of those surveyed admitted that they have used their smartphones to look up the hours or location of a store. Fifty four percent of respondents have typed their shopping list into their smartphones and checked it at the store. Forty six percent of those surveyed commented that they compared prices with those of other retailers in a store on their smartphones. Thirty five percent of respondents have used their smartphones to find product information instead of turning to a store employee. And 28% of those surveyed have scanned QR codes.

IDC’s research also highlighted the popularity of mobile applications to enhance the shopping experience. Canadian consumers have readily adopted them. Sixty nine percent of Canadian smartphone owners surveyed have downloaded at least one app. Thirty four percent of respondents said they had downloaded three or more shopping apps.

These findings serve to emphasize the growing importance of mobile devices as part of the shopping experience. “Canadian shoppers are undeniably incorporating their phones into their shopping journeys. Retailers will have to adapt business strategies and tactics to serve the omni-channel shopper,” Hand remarked.

Hand believes that smartphones offer retailers an unprecedented opportunity to connect with consumers. “In the hands of the consumer, the mobile device is an always on shopping tool that the consumer will use to better inform and make purchase decisions,” she commented. “Engaging the consumer with messages, offers, applications, gamified interactions and social media sharing are just some of the ways the retailer can capitalize on this new shopping buddy, the mobile phone. The overall objective is to get closer to the consumer, personalize interactions and grow consumer loyalty.”

Canadian consumers are admittedly lagging behind their American peers when it comes to smartphone adoption. “American consumers still outpace Canadian neighbbors in smartphone adoption and mobile downloads,” Hand acknowledged. “But the gap is narrowing.” Hand has seen Canadian retailers catching up, too. “Many Canadian retailers also lagged American counterparts in eCommerce maturity, loyalty programs and social media interactions, and all of these are interrelated, and in some cases prerequisites,” she said. “American companies had at least a 2 year head start, but we have seen tremendous progress in these areas in the last 12 months.”

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