IRVINE: Almost three quarters of US smartphone owners are using their devices to look up information about products and local stores, new research has suggested.

The latest annual study from Local Corporation, an online local media company, polled 1,005 smartphone owners online who shopped at least several times per month online and spent at least $250 annually. It found that product shopping research via smartphone had more than doubled, from 34% of shoppers in 2012 to 73% in 2013.

Consumers were using their smartphones for a range of local shopping activities, including accessing store information (76%), checking competitive prices (58%) and finding digital coupons for redemption (68%).

Michael Sawtell, president and COO of Local Corporation, noted that, in addition to pricing and product information, two thirds were also checking product availability, which had a direct impact on purchase decisions. "Retailers need to take notice and adjust their engagement strategies to fit the evolving needs of the connected consumer," he said.

Not only were more consumers using smartphones for shopping research, they were using them more often. Some two thirds of respondents indicated that they had researched store-based needs more over the past year, with one third saying they had done so significantly more.

The results of the survey also suggested that the smartphone is rapidly becoming the default option for such consumers. In all, 60% often thought of using their smartphones when researching local purchases, while half of shoppers researched at least 50% of the time via smartphone when intending to make a local purchase.

Local Corporation described smartphones as "multi-purpose shopping utilities, giving connected consumers access to essential information that speeds purchase decision-making".

The study also noted several time-saving factors that produced a more efficient shopping experience, including the ability to establish the cost of a product (65%), read customer reviews (64%), access coupons or promotional codes (61%) and look at product information (59%).

The company itself is taking advantage of the trend, launching an app powered by Krillion location-based shopping data which will alert consumers when a particular sought-after item goes on sale at a local retailer.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal, MediaPost; additional content by Warc staff