Will new technologies affect the way we shop this holiday season?

With the ease and security of online shopping, you’d think everyone would be shopping at home this winter season. Of course, that’s far from the truth. Thousands of bargain hunters will be lined up anticipating the retail stores to open. And these savvy shoppers will have new bargain-hunting weapons at their disposal: mobile devices. Everyone with a smartphone or tablet will have with them specifically designed apps to help them navigate everything from where an item is in a store, to seeing if it is the best price, to being able to buy it online—in the store. Here are just a few of the ways technology is influencing our habits this holiday season.

Mobile Apps

Perhaps the newest trend is the availability of apps on smartphones and tablets that are especially made to make your holiday shopping smoother. One enables you to scan a barcode to see if it’s the best bargain while another allows you to take a picture of the product and it gives you comparison prices. One app even allows you to beat other customers to the punch by locating the aisle holding that sought after gift.

Smartphone Marketing

One major trend this season is in the techniques taken by marketers to catch us even when we’re not tied to our computers. Smartphone marketing may have a big effect on purchasing, as online retailers hope to strategically time their messages to effectively ambush customers while standing in line. One such marketer, for instance, is providing mobile-only deals at 6am, which might sway the would-be shopper from waiting in the cold altogether.

Economical Technology Trends

This holiday season, we’ll have technology on our side in a number of ways. It will give us nearly unlimited access to pricing, availability, shipping costs, and more at our fingertips. And, at the same time, technology itself is in a battle for our attention. The Kindle Fire, iPad’s newest rival, is posing a real threat at over half the price. Apple’s iPhone is facing new competition every day. So for the consumer at this time, it may well be the best of both worlds if they have the means.

For those of us set on visiting the brick-and-mortars this season, technology can be a great help, from finding great prices to gift ideas. Apps can help us while we’re in the store, and our mobile phones may ring signaling that we’re paying too much! But the trends that make our shopping easier may take a backseat to those that signal the sign of these times: only the technologies that offer the very best value will be the hot commodities as the economy continues to stumble along.

Posted on: 11.22.11