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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Technology aids gift-giving ideas for consumers

Alex+Kulpinski+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0APublic+Health+major+Ivan+Marin+%28Junior%29+and+Biology+major+Sadaf+Sawayz+%28Junior%29+look+for+winter+jackets+at+the+Dillards+outlet+in+the+Park+Place+Mall.++Ivan+and+Sadaf+are+working+to+check+items+off+their+christmas+list.
Alex Kulpinski
Alex Kulpinski / Arizona Daily Wildcat Public Health major Ivan Marin (Junior) and Biology major Sadaf Sawayz (Junior) look for winter jackets at the Dillards outlet in the Park Place Mall. Ivan and Sadaf are working to check items off their christmas list.

Technology is driving this holiday shopping season more than ever before, putting the shopping experience back in the hands of consumers.

This year, holiday shoppers are using technology to study up on their purchases before they enter the stores, while retailers are using technology to personalize the shopping experience, according to Martha Van Gelder, director of the UA’s Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing.

“I think consumers are getting the info, they’re comparing and they’re getting the deals,” Van Gelder said. She added that technology has allowed for the integration of online shopping and the physical store. Younger consumers are determining where they want to spend their money and what they want to spend it on before they even set foot in the store.

This generation of shoppers, ages 20 to 30, “wants what they want, when they want it,” Van Gelder said. As a result, retailers are using social networks and online promotions to appeal to customers.
“Retailers have to have a lot of computing power,” Van Gelder said.

In addition to using online marketing, some retailers are reflecting the desires of this younger, more technologically-savvy population in their merchandise.

Creative Ventures, a craft mall on Fourth Avenue, is changing its product line to appeal to college-age customers, said Craig Wilson, the store’s owner. The store also has a Facebook, a website and an Amazon.com outlet.

“It’s now more feasible to market and advertise in that direction than to advertise a gift store in print,” Wilson said.

According to Wilson, Creative Ventures’ sales on Amazon.com skyrocket during the holiday season. The revenue gained from the holiday shopping season as a whole makes up about 35 percent of the store’s yearly income, he said.

Although Dillard’s at Park Place Mall does not specifically target college-age customers, it does sell merchandise that appeals to a group that is concerned with fashion and trends, said Ken Haley, the store’s manager. To communicate with this demographic, Dillard’s has a Facebook and a Twitter account, and it advertises in the Daily Wildcat.

According to Jill Harlow, the marketing director at Park Place Mall, customers are starting to notice the benefits of supporting retailers online this holiday season. Many retailers offer online-exclusive deals and promotions, and being a member of a retailer’s Facebook page or website not only gives consumers access to these deals, but it allows them to get them faster.

“Digital media is playing a big role in how we communicate with customers this year,” Harlow said. “This year is a game changer.”

Some students say deals and special promotions are exactly what they are shopping for. Kristina Kanoza, a vocal performance freshman, said she may spend a little bit of extra money during the holiday season if the item she’s considering happens to be the perfect gift. But usually, she sticks to the deals.

“The stuff on sale is just as good as the stuff not on sale,” she said.

Despite the constant online communication between customers and retailers, some students say they still prefer to shop in store. Jessica Barakat, a public administration senior, said she prefers to shop in the stores because she can make sure her purchases are exactly what she wants. Concert tickets may be one of Barakat’s only online purchases this season, she said.

For Kanoza, shopping online is both frustrating and risky because she can’t affirm the product’s quality.

“I think online’s really difficult unless I’m shipping it to a different state,” she said.

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