MIAMI (CBSMiami) – This holiday season, shoppers have been going mobile by using smartphones to tackle their gift list so they’re not tethered to the computer or stuck battling the crowds.
The number of consumers who plan to purchase on the go is up a whopping 44% over the last year.
Experts explain how it can help people be savvier shoppers but also share important security steps to take before starting a mobile shopping spree.
For Emily Ojobaro, being a new mom means lots of multitasking. And when she’s up late doing feedings, she uses her free hand to do some shopping.
“It’s just easy when I have my phone in my hand to click on an app or open the internet and next thing you know you made a purchase. I don’t remember the last time I turned on a computer to buy something,” said Ojobaro.
Convenience is driving consumers like Ojobaro to tablets and smartphones, so they don’t have to drive from store to store. Ojobaro likes retailers with their own apps.
“You log into the apps, you don’t have to log in again, you don’t have to have your credit card, it saves all your information,” said Ojobaro.
“Mobile sales are growing at probably 25% versus online total,” said Accenture’s Renato Scaff.
Retail consultant Renato Scaff expects mobile growth to accelerate even more and said phones and tablets are essential tools for the entire shopping experience.
“There’s no question that consumers are getting smarter through their mobile, whether it’s, they’re looking at comparative pricing when they’re in the store and making sure they’re getting the best deal or they’re reading ratings and reviews from other consumers to know ‘Is this a good product?'” said Scaff.
Ojobaro liked that she found discounts and easily comparison shop with her phone.
“Sometimes it can be annoying using your smart phone to shop if you can’t zoom in and see the product, like if you can’t make your screen bigger, because you can’t look at a one centimeter by one centimeter picture and make a decision,” said Ojobaro.
Other concerns center on security. According to John Breyault of the National Consumers League, his advice is that people use a pin to lock their phone so that others can’t access their info if they lose it.
“If you’re protecting your wallet with a certain degree of security, make sure and protect your smart phone that way or even stronger,” said John Breyault of the National Consumers League.
He also urges caution when shopping from spots with public wi-fi since its possible your information can be intercepted. He also said to be careful about the websites they use to search.
“There are lots of malware sites out there that you go to that may look like they’re offering a good deal on a product, but instead they only exist to load viruses and things like that onto your smartphone,” said Breyault. “Or they may be trying to collect sensitive personal information about you like a social security number, a date of birth or credit or banking information.”
One security advantage phones may have over computers are apps.
“The apps are typically vetted by the app store that you get them from and they’re likely to be safer from malware,” said Breyault.
Ojobaro doesn’t worry about security too much. A bigger fear for her is impulse purchases, since it’s so simple to buy through her phone.
“What I try to do is I’ll add it to the cart and then I will wait until the next day before I complete the purchase,” said Ojobaro.
Another perk of the mobile is having the ability to find savings with coupons or discount codes.