Your smartphone could be your best Black Friday shopping pal

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More and more tech consumers now turn to their trusty pal, their smartphone, to find the best deals on the most sought-after gadgets and tech deals. Here are some ways that using your phone can help you mobilize your Black Friday shopping campaigns—assuming you venture from your living room to do so.

Map your route

When you run through stores trying to find door-buster deals, your phone might help you beat the rush in the race to the Black Friday finish line this week.

For instance, Macy upgraded its iOS app to include location-specific Black Friday specials and where in the store they are stocked. Walmart also updated its app with store maps and product locations and prices.

Google Maps for Android also offers store-specific maps and Black Friday deals from stores such as Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Bloomingdale’s.

Google map of the Mall of America: Before, left, and after
Google map of the giant Mall of America. Google's older map of the area is at the left; the updated version is much more specific.

Many consumers participate in “showrooming,” which is a nickname for the process of checking out an item in the actual store and then purchasing it for a lower price online.

Twenty percent of people admit to showrooming, according to research from marketing software company Aprimo, and nearly 40 percent of showroomers do it to research consumer electronics.

Some stores, such as Best Buy, are offering to price-match online stickers during the holidays to keep up with the competition.

But retailers are still figuring out the best way to grab mobile market share, says founder and CEO Dan de Grandpre.

“(These approaches) are really brand new things and I think the strategy that Walmart, Macy’s, and others are using is a shotgun approach—doing all these things on mobile, Facebook, etc., and seeing what sticks,” de Grandpre says.

Smartphone app clutter

There’s also the little problem of clutter: Few smartphone users want their screens crowded with apps from every store they shop at, just for the chance at a few coupons or store maps. So a bunch of store-specific apps and maps might not catch on, de Grandpre says, but other tools might.

Google plans to remain a hub for some of the country’s largest retailers by adding features to its Shopping page just in time for Black Friday. Google added shortlists to save items you like and 360-degree product views. When browsing for a product, you see a list of discounts available on products you view on the site.

Some stores last Black Friday used mobile coupons to get people to buy online while standing in line.

Target and Best Buy this year said they plan to offer online-only Black Friday deals. Signing up for the sites’ deals of the day delivers e-mails with discounts to your inbox.

Mobilizing consumers

Mobile purchases are expected to make up 21 percent of all online sales this holiday season, up 110 percent over last holiday season, according to Adobe’s online buying forecast for 2012. On Black Friday, tablets and phones will account for 24 percent of online traffic.

Traffic translates to sales. Brick-and-mortar stores have embraced mobile because consumers are purchasing gifts on their phones and tablets more than ever before. PayPal last year reported a 516 percent increase in mobile payments on Black Friday.

De Grandpre says anything that works this time around, from store map apps to smartphone coupons, will be replicated in 2013.

“What you see this season will be next year’s normal,” de Grandpre says.

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