It used to be that businesses would attract local on-the-go consumers who happened to walk past storefronts. Now, companies can catch the interests of local consumers on the go through their smartphones. New research from Compete shows that Americans are increasingly relying on their mobile phones to search for retailers, and marketers can take advantage of this by making sure users find their ecommerce websites via phone.

Compete’s Q1 2010 Smartphone Intelligence Survey reveals that one in three smartphone users has visited a local business they found through a local search application. Android and iPhone users in particular seem to look for local companies – nearly one-third of users of these mobile devices were made aware of at least two new businesses with local search applications.

With the rise of mobile searches, marketers have access to the one in five U.S. adults who own smartphones. To maximize this opportunity, it’s important to ensure that business websites are mobile-friendly. Additionally, mobile paid searches could be a worthy investment, particularly as RBC Capital Markets says mobile will account for 8 to 10 percent of overall searches in 2010.

To capitalize on queries conducted on iPhone, Apple’s iAd platform may prove invaluable. The mobile advertising network uses consumer behavioral data gathered on iTunes to help target messages to the right smartphone users.