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From Your Pocket To Under The Tree: Mobile’s Expanding Role This Holiday Season

 

Cyber Monday

PHOTO CREDIT: Mashable.com

Shopping started early this year as shoppers still full from dinner lined up in front of retail locations opening their doors Thanksgiving evening.  However, earlier that day, in-between helpings of stuffing, shoppers were getting a head start with help from their tablets and smartphones.

Mobile had a large role in this holiday season’s busiest weekend. As turkeys roasted in the oven, shoppers were looking up deals, researching products, and even purchasing gifts during commercial breaks in the Cowboys-Raiders game. Mobile devices accounted for nearly half of all ecommerce traffic, and over one-quarter of all sales on Thanksgiving this year. That is a 50% increase from last year.

In fact, we saw significant year-on-year improvement throughout the weekend, as there was an 186% increase in mobile sales on Black Friday, and over 50% increase of mobile sales on Cyber Monday.

 

How was mobile used?

Mobile covers both smartphones and tablets, but it was the latter that was the driving force of note this season. Although smartphones drove more traffic, it was tablets that saw over 5% more total sales and larger cart sizes (over $20 more than smartphones).

Tablets are slowly becoming PC alternatives, as browsing behavior is similar to their larger cousins, and showcase more usage in lean-back moments of leisure. In fact, tablets beat out both smartphones and PCs when it comes to “primetime” usage (from 8-10pm).

In seeing these numbers, and knowing that Cyber Monday sales this year were up 30% over that of Black Friday’s sales, we have to ask: Why are we seeing rapid digital and mobile adoption? A recent survey shows that many shoppers (90%) were content to do some or all of their shopping online, hoping to avoid the chaos that awaited them in-store this holiday season.

Smartphone driven revenue is becoming a larger part of total ecommerce, as we have seen 66% growth from Q3 2012 to Q3 2013, with desktop revenue percentage shrinking by 8%. This is not surprising considering 29% of mobile mothers, according to eMarketer, say they shop on mobile because they don’t have time to go to the store, and it is fast and easy.

 

What does this mean for brands?

With Mobile Internet time spent primed to overtake PC Internet time spent as early as 2014, brands must be prepared to handle a mobilized shopping audience. As smartphone adoption swells beyond 60%, what can brands and retailers do to take advantage of this mobile mind shift?

They must understand it goes beyond commerce. When it comes to shopping related activities, mobile is becoming an important research platform.  Mobile, the always on/always with you platform, provides an outlet to satisfy impulse. Overheard that your nephew is interested in a toy you’ve never heard of while grabbing that second slice of pie? Users can take out their phones and learn more about it and where to get it. In fact, 68% of shopping related mobile searches are for gaining information about a product and how to get it (eMarketer).

 

How could it affect the entire shopping experience?

Considering that 74% of smartphone related purchases are completed offline (eMarketer), let’s walk through a potential shopper’s journey and see where mobile plays a role.

Lets say you found that your local big box retailer has the toy your nephew wants (using your GPS location in search results to provide closest option). You go to the store, and use indoor positioning (using the store’s WiFi network to act as an indoor GPS) to find the toy.

You are a savvy shopper, so you look at other stores in the area to see what prices they are offering for the toy, seeing if you can score a better deal (showrooming apps like Red Laser can search available product prices by scanning the barcode of the product).

Luckily the Big Box retailer has a promotion with your comparison app and provides an in-store only discount (where geofencing could be leveraged to identify if you are indeed in the store or not).

You then add the discount to your passbook and check out. You celebrate the successful shopping experience by posting on Facebook on the way to your car.

 

Mobile can be the bridge between the physical and digital. Effectively managing this relationship can augment the traditional retail experience with a rich layer of information that supports the shopper/retailer relationship. And this convergence is where the future of retail is heading.  Question is, will you be ready to serve them throughout their shopping journey?