How to Shop on the Go This Holiday Season

If you’re looking to save a little time this holiday season by shopping on the mobile web, you’d do well to spend some time on Amazon’s mobile site, according to figures released this week from Compuware’s Gomez division. The online retailer’s destination fared the best in a study of 14 mobile sites studied by the developer of web optimization software, placing first in both response time (averaging 2.85 seconds) and availability (99.86 percent). Mobile sites from QVC and Newegg also performed well, Gomez said, while sites from  Sears, Buy.com and Target each had an average response time of more than six seconds.

Those sites and plenty of others are likely to see a surge in traffic this holiday season. Deloitte found that 19 percent of U.S. consumers plan to use their phone as a shopping tool to find store locations, research prices and access discounts. One-fourth of those polled said they actually planned to make a purchase on their handsets. Of all the mobile sites and apps designed to help users spend their money starting on Black Friday, here are a few of the more notable ones:

  • eBay this week released a free app that allows iPhone users to search millions of the site’s listings to find the best deal. Users search by keyword and are alerted when the products they’re looking for come up for auction.
  • Toysrus.com has launched a new mobile site enabling users to browse merchandise and make purchases over the phone; the site is also available through the company’s applications for BlackBerry and iPhone users.
  • Google has joined the mobile coupon space, allowing retailers to add discount offerings in Google’s Local Business Center. The coupons are presented as users search Google’s local listings from web-enabled phones.
  • ShopSavvy, which comes courtesy of the developer Big in Japan, allows iPhone and Android users to scan barcodes to find the best prices for both online and local items. Amazon’s iPhone app also includes a multimedia feature, allowing users to snap a photo of a product and submit it to find the item in Amazon’s catalog.
  • Even users with lower-tech phones can subscribe to Black Friday’s Twitter feeds, where discounts and lists to shopping guides are posted regularly.
  • Frucall offers a multipronged solution, enabling users to comparison shop via text message, the mobile web or with a simple voice call. The Mountain View, Calif.-based startup also offers a social networking component, encouraging users to interact with each other via voice or text message.

There are, of course, countless other sites and services that will happily help separate you from your money this holiday season. And the next few weeks should serve as kind of barometer for mobile shopping offerings, providing yet another glimpse of just how much consumers are using their phones to do more than just talk and text. If retailers and developers truly see a substantial surge in usage — and if their offerings are up to the task — it may bode well for the mobile data market as the economy recovers.

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