Smart Phones for Smarter Shopping

By Matt Porter

November 26, 2012 Updated Nov 26, 2012 at 9:00 PM EST

Johnson City, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Years ago, customers looking for an engagement ring at Van Cott Jewelers would look at pictures or just trust a jeweler description of the finished product.

But now, co-owner Birdie Levine has gone high tech with a mobile app called "The Vow."

The phone and tablet app allows customers to pick from hundreds of rings as well as look at a 3-D model of each design.

"You can hit a little button, that will allow a hand to come up and show a particular ring that you love," Levine said. "And it will allow it to come up on a hand, so it's a very, very cool app."

Levine said the app can lead to a perfect fit.

"It's really important for the male because he sees exactly what his girlfriend wants, and knows. And that makes it a lot easier," she said.

With more than 4 in 5 people owning a cell phone, according to the Pew Research Center, and half of those usig web enabled "smart phones," stores across the country are taking advantage.

Target store manager Joe Eckels said the company knows they have a big future in their mobile application.

"A lot of guests being much more smart phone inclined and having it with them, want to be able to take advantage of it in their brick and mortar experience along with their online shopping experience," said Eckels.

At Target, they're trying to expand their mobile application technology, including being able to purchase a gift card using just a phone.

Customers can hold their phone to a display with a gift card code and scan it. In just a few seconds, they'll be able to decide how much they want to send, who they want to send it to, and how they want it delivered.

At Van Cott Jewelers, Levine said the apps are just the start of the process.

"They get an idea of what it looks like," she said, "And then come into the store and get educated on what the quality is and how they should put it together."

A new era where what's on the phone is becoming as important as what's in the wallet.