Up to 140 million people are expected to shop online and offline from Black Friday through the weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. While this may sound like a huge number, it actually represents a decline of 5 percent from last  year’s projection. Analysts say consumers are likely to see bigger discounts this year, but the fiscal cliff and sequestration will dampen shopper enthusiasm slightly. One area that all experts agree will boom is mobile shopping.

In 2011, 14.3 percent of shoppers used their mobile phones to access a retailer website. Last year, this number jumped to 24 percent. It’s expected to climb to as high as 44 percent this year, according to MarketLand. Mobile shoppers aren’t just clicking “buy” from their phones, however. There are many more uses for a smartphone on Black Friday this year.

mobile shopping

1. Look up information and customer reviews while in store.

Consumers still like to look at and touch items in-store. Yet, they also don’t want to buy an item they perceive as being high-quality — only to find that it has horrible reviews online. So many shoppers are expected to browse items in store and reference additional product details and consumer reviews on their mobile phones before making their final purchase in store. Sometimes you’ll hear this practice called “webrooming” — something that 88 percent of shoppers admit to doing in the past six months.

2. Find better competitor pricing and deals online.

Seventy-three percent of shoppers have participated in “showrooming” — the practice of checking out items in-store, but purchasing online via smartphones. Some retailers loathe this practice, while others have embraced it as a natural part of shopping. Many stores are offering “online price matching” or “best price guarantees,” for instance. Sixty-one percent of online shoppers say price is the most important reason to buy online. This year, so many sites are offering free shipping, which only sweetens the deal.

mobile shopping black friday

3. Create a wishlist or registry and entertain themselves.

Users are taking pics, scanning barcodes and saving items into an online wishlist or registry for themselves. They can also access friend and family lists on sites like Giftster, GiftRegistry360 or Amazon’s new Universal Wishlist. Additionally, it was discovered that 39% of shoppers are occupying themselves while waiting in long store lines by purchasing additional products online!

4. Pay for items.

“Retailers might allow customers to use their smartphones to pay for purchases anywhere in their stores, not just at check-out,” says REJournal. Mobile pay would be a great way to combat long customer lines, they add. It’s unclear how many retailers will allow shoppers this option on Black Friday, but Business Week sees this technology taking off big in 2014. However, it’s likely there will be more abilities to access one’s shopping bill via an online site or app like Paypal, rather that using credit card scanner technology as has been suggested in the past.

black friday social

5. Make a suggestion to friends.

Word of mouth marketing is easier than ever with mobile technology. Eighty-one percent of consumers say social media posts from friends influence their purchasing decisions. Also, 78 percent of brand posts influence purchases. While in store this Black Friday, shoppers won’t hesitate to post photos of items and talk about their shopping trips in real-time.

6. Sign up for a loyalty program.

Why hold up the whole line signing up for the loyalty program when you can fill out the form on your smartphone while waiting? With 84% of Nielsen survey respondents stating that they were “more likely to choose retailers that offered a loyalty program,” there is no doubt that loyalty programs will be a hot commodity on Black Friday.

black friday mobile loyalty program

7. Check availability and find sale items in store.

How many times have you been in a huge store and desperately hunted down a sales associate to help you find something? A neat idea comes to us from Walmart this year. Black Friday shoppers can use an online map and mobile app to find sale items on their lists. Each store has its own map and will be especially helpful for the One-Hour Guarantee events. According to Marketland data, 55% of shoppers will use their mobile phones to check availability of items before going to the store and 50% will track items in-store on their phones.

8. Receive real-time discounts and get hard-to-find items.

Nearly half of shoppers say their most desired feature in a mobile app is real-time discounts based on items they are currently looking at in stores. They also were looking for apps to let them order items that were out of stock in store with the touch of a button.

Despite the rise in mobile shopping, consumers need to be on their guard. Fraudsters are expected to be out in full force this holiday season looking for easy money as well. “We’re human; we’re compelled to click,” says David Knight, Proofpoint executive vice president. “And we’re even more human during the holiday season.” Furthermore, as companies strive to make mobile experiences as “friction-less” as possible with one-touch purchasing, it also makes it easier for crooks to infiltrate and rack up bills. Consumers should use complex passwords, pay attention to ensure they are buying on an “https” secure browser, and be a little bit paranoid if a link seems phishy.

Happy Shopping!