BERLIN: More than a fifth of smartphone users in Germany take photos of products on their handsets during the purchase process, in one indication of how these devices are influencing shopper habits.

A survey of 5,000 mobile subscribers by comScore, the insights provider, on behalf of BITKOM, the trade body, showed 21% of people owning a gadget like the iPhone currently engaged in this activity.

This equates to 4.5m shoppers, and is a trend with the potential to make a dramatic impact, according Bernard Rohleder, the chief executive of BITKOM.

"The proliferation of smartphones has substantially changed buying behaviour in stores," he said. "With the help of photos on a phone, consumers can compare product features and prices before making their purchase decisions."

Elsewhere, the analysis revealed 8% of smartphone users, or 1.8m people, sent these pictures to a friend or relative before or after acquiring an item.

"Another factor to consider is the social shopping aspect," said Rohleder. "Younger customers are especially eager to share pictures with their friends on social networks like Facebook if they are pleased they have bought something special."

Overall, 98% of smartphone owners took photos using these devices, the same number as for sending text messages, the analysis added.

Data sourced from BITKOM; additional content by Warc staff