Blog Post

Mobile and the rise of the smart buyer

Earlier this morning I came across report from Deloitte that says that mobile will be a massive influence during the coming holiday shopping season. Here is an excerpt from the report which came to me via a UBS research note:

27% of US smartphone users will use the device during in-store holiday shopping: A new Deloitte survey (Oct 26) of 5,000 U.S. consumers says of the 42% of consumers who own a smartphone, 27% will use the device while shopping for the holidays. 67% of these shoppers will use the devices to find store locations, 59% to compare prices, 46% to check product availability, 45% to shop at online stores, and 40% will scan bar codes.

This data jives with the findings of previous surveys, such as the one conducted by Google earlier this year.

Smart Buyer Arrives

When I look at these stats, I don’t see bargain hunters. Instead, I see emergence of what I call a “smart buyer” who uses their smartphone to make smart decisions  — whether it is for price, location or the brand to spend money with. There are dozens of great apps for different mobile platforms that allow us to do everything from price match to get more information about a product you are about to buy, say, a television.

I am by nature not a bargain hunter. However, I get annoyed in stores when I realize that had I ordered the same thing online, I could have saved some money. Of course, it is often too late for recriminations. But thanks to the mobile phone, I don’t have to wait to make sure that I am not leaving money on the table.

A result of this mobile-inspired behavior is that most of my shopping dollars are ending up with Amazon (s AMZN) and a handful of other online destinations. I am not alone. Amazon is seeing a lot of people send more of their dollars to the Seattle-based online giant.

The great thing about these smart buyers is that there is an intent to buy, and that is one of the main reasons every major brand should be paying attention to this behavior shift. I admit the change in our behavior is very subtle and might take a few more years to become a major trend.

P.S.: We will be discussing the impact of anywhere computing at our inaugural GigaOM Roadmap conference, scheduled for Nov. 10 in San Francisco. Details here.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Johan Larsson.

6 Responses to “Mobile and the rise of the smart buyer”

  1. Phil Hendrix

    SoLoMo, M-Commerce and Digital Signals

    Om, agree with your observations. In fact, SoLoMo (Social + Location + Mobile) is having an enormous impact across the entire value chain – for example, on a given day more than half of Twitter users share opinions about a product or brand; companies like Retailigence are making prices and product availability transparent; with AisleBuyer, consumers can pay w/ their mobile device and bypass the checkout; and many other examples. These and related developments are discussed in our recent report for GigaOm Pro “How SoLoMo is Empowering Consumers, Transforming Shopping and Disrupting Advertising and Retailing” (overview at

    Finally, it’s not just “smart buyers” but also “smart companies” capitalizing on these capabilities – examples and discussion in “Tuning into Consumers’ Digital Signals” (overview, download at

    Dr. Phil Hendrix, immr and GigaOm Pro analyst

  2. There are several other reasons (besides saving money) for buying from Amazon. You don’t have to drive anywhere, you don’t have to worry that a physical store will be out of stock on the item you want, and Amazon has a far larger selection than a physical store can contain within its walls.

    • And a fourth reason: Amazon gives you user feedback on the items you’re interested in. Put all those attractions together and you’ve got a powerful incentive for buying online.