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Charlie BrownIt’s a holiday retail wish come true: online holiday shopping spending is predicted to increase 15 percent to $60 billion this year. The reason? Tablets and smarter online shoppers.

According to a report by Forrester, customers are finally taking heavily to Internet shopping not just for convenience, but for deals. Online retail shopping used to be seen as a “can’t find it in the store, look on the web!” option. Now, with the tons of available daily deals sites, and a much larger competitive landscape, prices are often better online than in stores. Comparing prices is getting even easier too, especially as smartphones become more widely adopted.

Even giant online retailers such as Amazon are offering ways to compare prices. The company recently released its Flow app, which allows customers to scan bar codes in stores. The app then displays the product price, along with information about it and any associated media, such as videos.

Because of products like this, mobile is going to be huge this holiday season, with 30 percent of smartphone users saying they use their phones to research products. That’s a 30 percent raise from last year. In fact, 50 percent of tablet owners use their devices for product research. Because of the tablet’s larger screen and mobility, people can easily turn to it for information on a targeted gift.

It would only make sense then that consumers would buy online at the source, and Internet retailers are reacting to accommodate the new traffic. Perks such as free shipping always drive more purchases as it makes the online price the same, or better, than the one in-store. says that 92.5 percent of online retailers will offer free shipping this season. Other than the instant gratification of buying in-store, free shipping from nearly 100 percent of online retailers will definitely level the shopping field.

The report states 58 percent of Americans are more price conscious this season. The combination of online discounts and new technology connecting people back to the Internet is providing fertile ground for online holiday shopping.

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