Rewind your “shopping memory” to a time even a few years ago, and it’s easy to see how much technology has changed how consumers browse and buy. Today’s technological tools make it so much easier to perform basic shopping functions to get the best price on the items you need.

In this post, learn about some of the most exciting new technological tools that are changing consumer shopping habits and behavior.

Tool 1: Sales via social media platforms.

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms are now integrating with third-party sales apps and platforms to make it even easier for consumers to shop anywhere, anytime.

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For example, Twitter users can now reply to tweets using specific hashtags (#AmazonCart in the USA and #AmazonBasket in the UK) to add the displayed item to their shopping cart within Amazon. With many more such integrations on the horizon, the barriers to online browsing and buying continue to disintegrate daily.

Tool 2: Leveraging the power of the group dollar.

While Groupon itself is hardly new news, the ever-growing host of imitators continues to specialize in leveraging the power of the group dollar to get the best pricing for all.

For instance, Fab is a site specifically devoted to shopping for home and kitchen items, while Savored focuses on trendy restaurants in New York City. Woot crowd-sources pricing for gadgets and electronics, and Refinery29 is all about fashion. And of course there are always the catch-all sites like Bloomspot and Living Social for those who don’t quite know what they are looking for yet.

Tool 3: Online grocery shopping options.

Billed as one of the speediest and most economical options for ordering groceries online, Togle is set to fill the void in UK grocery delivery options.

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Togle is partnering with grocery giants M&S and Whole Foods to make offer delivery service in 40 minutes or less in some areas. So not only are customers now saving the time they would have waited in traffic and waited in line, but all they have to do is click, order and pay to get their groceries.

Tool 4: Independent user review sites.

No more are consumers expected to take a manufacturer’s or distributor’s word for it when it comes to product or service quality. The new breed of independent review sites such as Angie’s List for home improvement services, GoodReads for books, Foursquare for local businesses and Consumer Reports for practically everything are good examples of frequently consulted pre-purchase sites.

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As well, Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook business page reviews offer consumers a great way to hear from other customers around the world before they make a purchase decision. The freedom these and other sites offer to leave accurate public reviews is an equally significant factor for consumers who need to resolve issues with product or service quality.

Tool 5: Mobile-based browsing and buying.

Perhaps the most significant shift to date in technology-related consumer purchase patterns comes from the move to smaller screen devices. To date, 51 percent of searches take place on small screen devices versus computers (laptops or desktops).

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This holds true for shoppers from nearly every demographic, from early teens to late in life. The trend is showing up all over the world, to the point where some individuals are even dropping at-home internet coverage in favor of mobile-only access on phones and tablets.

These five major shifts represent just a handful of the changes seen today in online shopping. E Commerce ideas that once seemed far-fetched - more like science fiction than fact - are now coming to life right before consumers’ eyes. A perfect example is Amazon’s ongoing efforts to employ drone technology to make product deliveries.

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And there will be much more excitement yet to come as integration between today’s diverse set of mobile and online tools continues. For many, third-party ecommerce shops now integrate with social media and a variety of payment options as well as standard web tools such as blog platforms and review sites. What once seemed like a great big online world is growing smaller and more connected every day.

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