The New Shopping Experience: The Pre-buy Phase

It’s no secret that the shopping experience is changing with the rise of smartphones and tablets. According to Harvard Business Review, the mobile transformation is affecting the whole shopping cycle from start to finish. This article is the first in a six-part series on retail trends in advance of the 2014 National Retail Federation’s Annual Convention being held next week in New York.

Today, many U.S. shoppers use digital tools, including smartphones and tablets, to research products before making major purchases. Mobile devices provide access to resources that arm you with the information needed to make informed choices, including how much a product costs, if the product has received positive reviews and whether a better product exists.

So what’s the easiest way to find that information?

Good Old-Fashioned Search Engine

It’s as easy as instructing Siri or saying OK, Google. Today’s mobile search returns results within seconds and is a good starting point for any online research. It gives you an overview of the category of products you’re researching and the top results are likely your best bet. For example, if you’re researching TVs but don’t know anything about flat screens, the top search results will clue you into the most well-known and respected brands. It may also turn up articles by reporters and bloggers who have already done the homework for you.  

Compare Prices

There are multiple price comparison apps on the market. One such app is RedLaser, a well-known favorite for comparing prices. Just scan the barcode on a product, and the app tells you if it’s the best deal. It will also let you know where else the product is available and can even reserve the product at a selected store for you. Meanwhile, Amazon’s Price Check encourages showrooming – the act of researching products in the store while checking prices and purchasing the very item you’re admiring on

Would you like to see the history of the price of an item you’re researching? CamelCamelCamel displays the highest and lowest prices ever charged for the item in question sold by Amazon, which is especially convenient when comparing a large discount percentage with what the retailer usually charges.

Check Product Reviews

Nothing is more disappointing than purchasing a product and being dissatisfied with its performance. Reading negative product reviews after the fact just adds salt to the wound. To see what others are saying about a product, Consumr provides product reviews from all across the Web in one place. Its categories include baby items, appliances, skin care and more.  

You’ve likely heard the phrase “buyer beware.” By tapping into all the resources available through your tablet and smartphone when beginning the shopping process, you can rest assured you’ll net the right product at the right price.

This article is part of a series on retail trends in advance of the 2014 National Retail Federation’s Annual Convention being held in New York.