Mobile to Change Impulse Purchases Permanently, Reports StorefrontBacktalk

Mobile devices will create new types of impulse purchases that were never before possible. At the same, its in-store research capabilities will wipe out many time-honored impulse buys.

Dec 13, 2010, 09:00 ET from StorefrontBacktalk

WHIPPANY, N.J., Dec. 13, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- The impulse purchase is a critical tool for retail profits, but an unintended result of the recent mobile shopping craze is that impulse purchases are likely going to be permanently changed, as the phones allow for new kinds of impulse purchases while killing many others. The future of impulse purchases and how they'll be impacted by mobile devices was examined in a series of reports at StorefrontBacktalk®, a site that tracks retail technology, mobile and E-Commerce issues.

The impulse reports—available at—look at where these changes are likely to change shopping for the indefinite future. "Consider a movie whose star is wearing a really cute sweater or using an especially intriguing gadget. In the lobby seconds after the closing credits start to roll, consumers will be able to find and buy those items.  That in-the-heat-of-the-moment urge to buy may have easily calmed long before the consumer gets home to a laptop. But the always-on mobile device will—for the first time—enable such emotional instant buys," the report said. "Or consider sitting in a subway car when you see someone laughing out loud at a book. You catch the title, do a quick search on Amazon, download the e-book version (or, for you dead tree fans, have it delivered to your house tomorrow) and you're actually reading that same book while you're still five stops away from your home station. That's another impulse purchase that simply couldn't have happened without a mobile device."

Those are all examples of new kinds of mobile impulse purchases. There are almost as many examples where mobile is killing impulse purchases. "The very nature of an impulse purchase is emotional and immediate. Whether it's $1 or $2 for candy or a magazine at the checkout counter, $40 for a Blu-ray or hundreds of dollars for a deeply discounted HDTV, these sales only work if the consumer doesn't think about them—or their costs—very much," said StorefrontBacktalk Editor Evan Schuman. "Mobile's ability to make comparison shopping, while still in the store, so easy is likely to have a huge impact. Information is the enemy of the impulse purchase."

The issues are a lot more complicated, though. For consumers who love to shop and enjoy the experience, comparison shopping and electronic research "is a killjoy. Ironically, the consumers who would benefit most from being protected from their own passions are the ones who will fight the hardest to keep impulse purchases," Schuman said. "These are the shoppers who are giving retailers their profits this year."

The full reports are available online at

About StorefrontBacktalk

StorefrontBacktalk® is an editorial site that tracks retail technology, E-Commerce and Mobile issues for retail chain IT executives and those who need to understand retail trends. With more than 50,000 subscribers to its monthly newsletter—in addition to visitors to its Web and various mobile sites—StorefrontBacktalk is a widely respected independent watcher of retail technology issues. It's been quoted in more than 100 media outlets, including BusinessWeek, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, CBSNews, CNN, FoxNews, Computerworld, Wired, The Los Angeles Times,, CNET, U.S. News & World Report, Austin American-Statesman, USA Today, The Boston Globe and The American Banker.  More background is available at

CONTACT: Evan Schuman, 973-993-8098,

SOURCE StorefrontBacktalk