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Retailers adapt as mobile holiday shopping booms

(Reuters) - When it comes to holiday shopping, more people are phoning it in, forcing retailers to embrace new ways to connect or else lose sales.

Lowe's Companies, Best Buy and Toys R Us are among retailers making big changes to prepare for a wave of holiday shoppers who will use smart phones to research products, check rivals' prices and make purchases.

"The shopping experience is in the consumer's hands and you can't fight where they're going," said Gihad Jawhar, vice president of Lowes.com, the website of the second-largest home-improvement company. "Retailers can either hop on the bus or get left behind. We are choosing the first option."

Lowe's is issuing more than 42,000 Apple iPhones to employees in more than 1,700 stores.

When shoppers are in Lowes stores scanning bar codes with their phones, reading product reviews and checking prices, employees can engage them better using iPhones to track down similar information.

Staff can also check quickly if products are in stock or if items are available on Lowes' website or another store nearby, and can often match or beat a price a consumer finds elsewhere via a smart phone.

Best Buy has 63 so-called connected stores in which employees have been given mobile devices and are encouraged to use their own smart phones to help shoppers research products and check inventory. More...

11-20-2011 19:55