Consumer Shopping on Mobile – Comfort and Comparison

In the US, it is a huge holiday shopping weekend, following the major holiday of Thanksgiving.  Many retailers took an extra step to open on Thursday, known as “grey Thursday”.  The next day is the typical Black Friday, followed by Small Business Saturday, a campaign led by American Express.  Holiday sales have increased an average of 3.3% according to the National Retail Federation and in 2013 the prediction was slightly higher at 3.9% while the actual results have been disappointing at 2.4% according to Shopper Track. Revenues in the retail sector can have 20-40% weight on the sales during the months of November and December, and in 2013, the holiday season has a shortened calendar.

So where has the shopping gone? While the results so far are the weakest since the last recession, the foot traffic was down over 11%, while the online sales rose 20 percent over last year on Thanksgiving according to IBM and 19 percent on Black Friday.  The real increase and impact that occurred this year was with mobile – where almost 40% of online traffic was from mobile, and the sales from mobile grew to 21.8% of online sales, up 43% year over year.  Clearly many consumers chose the comfort option to stay at home and shop online or via their mobile device rather than buying in the physical stores.  The slight increase of average spend was in the iOS users, with an average of 22% higher spend than Android users.

Engagement has become a regular objective with mobile and the retailers.  They have moved from simply an SMS outreach campaign to multi-channel mobile marketing with many mega brands leading the way, such as Macy’s who has integrated campaigns across mobile, local, social, online, TV and print for the holiday season.  The use of push notifications has increased during the holiday shopping season as well, from those that are simply based on the holiday specials to those that are location based when you might walk or drive by their store.

Comparison shopping has become a constant challenge and scenario for the retailers of today.  With today’s connected consumer, many retailers are sensitive to their purpose as a showroom and not always a point of sale.  Many shopping channels have led to increased comparison shopping from legacy solutions such as RedLaser to those tools specifically for online stores like CamelCamelCamel.  This is only part of the user behavior that has led to the discount expectations that are an assumption and always available easily from the retailer apps, as well as others such as RetailMeNot and Ibotta, which address different product types and stores.

What was your experience in the holiday shopping season? Did mobile make a difference for your business?  Did it impact your shopping experiences as a consumer? Share your stories


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