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Though many people will be doing all their holiday shopping via the Internet, many more will be enduring the crowds to get those early bargains—and many of them will be carrying their cellular phones. Everyone with a smartphone or tablet will be able to use certain apps to make their holiday shopping a better experience. These apps vary wildly from offering great gift ideas to scanning in-store barcodes to compare prices. Here, then, are just a few of the many ways technology will influence how we shop this holiday season.

Mobile Apps

An interesting trend this winter holiday is appearing in mobile apps for both smartphones and tablets. These apps are specifically created to make your in-store shopping experience as easy as possible. One app in particular allows you to scan a barcode with your smartphone and it will compare that products price to other stores and online retailers. Another app even lets you take a picture of the product, and it will likewise compare prices and availability. Still another allows you to skip the directory and locate the precise aisle placement of that prized gift.

Smartphone Marketing

A big trend this holiday season is in the use of online merchants reaching customers with smartphones while they’re at the retail store, specifically timed to catch the shopper in line. For those shoppers waiting around for the doors to open in the wee hours of the morning, many online marketers will present a cunning ambush, offering mobile-only deals at 6am. Though this may be an unwanted and even annoying technology, it’s still an interesting difference in this year’s holiday trends.

Economical Technology Trends

This season we’ll be using technology in ways we hadn’t even dreamed of 5 years ago—shopping with a tablet in hand and phone strapped to our ear. And the good news is, with the economy’s outlook, the technology itself is in a billion-dollar battle to create good quality products for the least amount. So the consumer wins in a way, should they have the means to purchase anything at all this holiday season.

Of course not all of us will be camped out in front of our computers making our holiday purchases this year. Many will have their smartphones and tablets at the ready to do battle against shop and shopper alike. But as technology gives us greater freedom as consumers to purchase wisely, we must also acknowledge the way the tech itself is in that continuous battle for our hard earned cash. And, in this economy, the machines, gadgets and gizmos that offer the most value, will be the ones to beat.