In an online survey of nearly 1,000 Canadians conducted last month, a majority of consumers said they planned to rely on their digital devices while shopping even more than they did last year, according to a report prepared by Tapped Mobile, App Promo and BrandSpark International.
About 72 per cent of moms aged 25 to 54; 77 per cent of male consumers aged 25 to 54; and 79 per cent of young consumers aged 18 to 29 said they already use a smartphone or tablet as a shopping tool in stores.
The respondents said they most frequently pulled out their phone to compare prices, to search for coupons, or look up product reviews.
"Most consumers won't leave home without their phone," said Jed Schneiderman, president of Tapped Mobile, a mobile advertising company.
"Mobile is effectively the new sales clerk, consumers are using their phones to do a lot of research on devices. They're using their phones to gather information in order to help them make better decisions."
Schneiderman said retailers need to make sure their websites load well on phones and tablets because a subpar experience could mean lost sales.
"They need to understand that people will be price checking, they'll be looking for coupons, and ratings, and reviews and so on. So websites need to be optimized for mobile, search needs to be optimized for the phone, consumers need to be able to discover information about retailers on their phone," he said.
The survey results suggest consumers are still lukewarm on mobile payments and aren't eager to use their phones to pay for purchases instead of using credit cards or cash.
Only 10 per cent of the respondents said they had already paid for a purchase in store with a mobile app.
Of the moms surveyed, only 24 per cent said they'd feel comfortable using their phone to make payments in store, while the male and young consumers were split.
"Mobile payments is very new and perhaps not well understood," Schneiderman said.
"It's got a long way to go and I think it's still too early to predict how it will evolve and who will find the payments race."
The polling industry's professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error as they are not a random sample and therefore are not necessarily representative of the whole population.