Mobile Applications Give Holiday Shoppers an Edge in Bargaining
"It's one more step in shifting the control to the customer and away from the retailer," says Miller Center for Retail Executive Director Steve Kirn.
It's a new wave of technology applied to shopping and stores are hurrying to catch up. Smart phone applications are the new enablers of the bargain shopper.
Kirn adds, "It is much more transparent, because you have access to the information. In many cases, you may know more about the particular product than the sales associate does, themselves. So it really changes again what’s the role of the sales associate."
Stores like Best Buy, Toys R Us and Nordstrom have already jumped on the bandwagon and offer numerous apps designed to give customers the power to make more immediate decisions. One of the features of the Best Buy app is one that allows you to find the price of an item. So if you have an item with a bar code and you have a camera on your smart phone, you can go to the Best Buy application, take a picture of the bar code with your phone and eventually you’ll get a screen that will tell you the exact price of that item.
Ryan Gomez works at Best Buy's mobile department and he says these apps have created a whirlwind at the store.
They started making the apps available "a couple months ago," he says. "Just to be competitive with everyone else. I mean, as you look in the market, apps are ever growing. It started with I think 100,000 apps for iPhone and Android and now it’s well over 200,000.”
Smart phone applications may be moving the balance of power in the consumers' favor, but how many people are using the new technology?
"A lot, actually." Gomez says, "a lot of our customers do research before they buy the phones and we definitely encourage it."
This holiday season, it brings a new meaning to the phrase 'knowledge is power.'
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