Use of Smartphones by Bargain-Hunting Consumers is Changing the Customer-Retailer Relationship, Accenture Survey Finds

NEW YORK; Dec. 6, 2010 – A global survey by Accenture (NYSE:ACN) on mobile devices and shopping shows that smartphone users would find it useful to download money-off coupons to their phones (79 percent), and receive instant money-off coupons as they pass by an item in a store (73 percent). Conversely, fewer than half (48 percent) of smartphone users have downloaded a coupon from their PCs. The survey results highlight how the growing use of smartphone technology and the economic downturn have encouraged cost-conscious consumers to explore alternative retail channels, such as online and smartphones, to secure bargains.

According to Accenture, the findings of its study of 1,000 consumers in 10 countries suggest that couponing could become a more important part of the retail experience as smartphone technology becomes more widespread, and if retailers are adept at using customer analytics to target messages and deals to consumers. Notably, 48 percent of conventional cell phone users plan to buy a smartphone in the next 12 months.

The results of the survey also indicate that smartphone technology is changing the relationship between customers and retailers. Many smartphone users said that they prefer using their mobile device rather than interacting with a store employee for simple tasks. According to the survey, 73 percent favor using their smartphone to handle simple tasks compared to 15 percent who favor interaction with an employee. Similarly, 71 percent favor using their smartphone to identify a store with a desired item in stock, while 17 percent would prefer to get that information by speaking to an employee.

“Smartphones will permanently change the relationship between the store and the shopper,” said Janet Hoffman, managing director of Accenture’s Retail practice. “Today’s tech-savvy consumer wants a seamless shopping experience across store, mobile or online at a time that suits them. Ultimately, this trend will lead to a new definition of the store; purpose, place and size are all up for debate. Already we are seeing some shoppers treating stores more like a showroom to test products and then making their purchase online.”

Privacy, however, remains a key concern of consumers, and could have a negative impact on the growing use of smartphones for shopping. More than half of respondents (54 percent) worry that using smartphones will erode their privacy. Among the other smartphone shopping concerns voiced, 59 percent of respondents fear losing the personal touch from store employees, and 39 percent believe that products would get more expensive.

“The greater use of smartphones for shopping creates opportunities and challenges for retailers in equal measure,” Hoffman said. “Companies need to use all of their customer information to better understand how and when their customers want to engage with them, ask them questions or just check some basic product details. Only then can they deliver a personalized and enjoyable experience, while lessening the risk of alienating customers through unwanted approaches.”

According to Andy Zimmerman, global managing director of Mobility Services at Accenture, these survey results are an early indicator that mobile applications will transform how businesses compete with one another and interact with their customers. "Companies that successfully integrate the location-based services, commerce, payment and other capabilities of the smartphone into their traditional businesses stand to gain significant competitive advantage over the coming years."

Among the additional survey findings:


The survey was programmed and hosted online by Lightspeed Research and designed to obtain interviews with 100 respondents in ten markets; U.S., France, Spain, Italy, U.K., Germany, Brazil, Japan, China and India.

To qualify for the survey, respondents needed to have home access to the Internet through a computer or netbook and carry a mobile phone or smartphone with them when they leave home.

Within each country’s sample, quotas were set as follows:

See full research results here.

About Accenture

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 204,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$21.6 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2010. Its home page is



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