A new survey of European consumers confirms the trend for shoppers to use their smartphones to research products in-store.

The report from Tradedoubler found that 42% of smartphone owners use their device to compare prices in-store, while 13% claim to have switched stores after finding a better offer elsewhere.

Location-based offers or vouchers, however, help to secure the interest of a fifth of potential buyers.

We have previously reported on the need for retailers to offer free Wi-Fi in-stores to enhance the customer experience, even if some consumers use it to check prices against competitors.

Shoppers will still access the internet using 3G, so by offering Wi-Fi retailers can retain some control over the user experience and push out mobile vouchers or offer product information.

John Lewis and Debenhams both currently offer free internet access in their stores, and House of Fraser’s e-commerce director Andy Harding said last week that mobile is the glue that binds together the multichannel experience.

It digitises the consumer and allows you to merge offline and online environments, and that is the store of the future.

House of Fraser uses QR codes in-store to give access to product information or let consumers check-in, which then allows the company to target them with contextual advertising.

Tradedoubler’s survey also highlights the importance of mobile optimised sites.

A quarter (26%) of respondents said they would buy more frequently if websites were optimised, and 50% of UK respondents said they become frustrated with the mobile shopping experience.

And while predictions of future purchase intent should always be treated with caution, it does show that brands can no longer expect consumers to put up with a non-optimised site.

Looking at security, around half of respondents were concerned about the security of mobile as a payment platform, but 42% of smartphone owners said they were interested in using their device as a mobile wallet.

This tallies with research by VoucherCodes.co.uk which found that 60% of British adults would avoid mobile payments, with security concerns (36%) the chief reason for avoiding the technology.

Harding is bullish on the use of mobile payments and NFC, predicting that smartphones will make credit cards almost obsolete within the next three years.

And the signs suggest he may be correct, with Visa and PayPal both announcing new mobile payments product recently.

Tradedoubler’s research involved more than 2,000 smartphone users in the UK, France, Germany and Sweden.