November 21, 2013 Leave a Comment
The juggernaut that is the Thanksgiving-Black Friday-CyberMonday shopping weekend is looming just one week away, and merchants and industry watchers alike are preparing for a holiday kickoff blitz. With the clock ticking down, one priority in particular is emerging as a worthy focal point for last-minute preparations: mobile offerings.
Recently-released research shows that mobile is poised to play a more crucial role than even the hype has predicted, for both online and offline shoppers alike. Among the reasons merchants should spend the next week fine-tuning their offerings:
Smartphones are now the primary starting point for shoppers. This fall, smartphones crossed a crucial threshold, becoming the touchpoint most often used for retail interactions, according to measurement firm comScore. Since August, smartphones have owned the majority of minutes spent interacting with retail brands, and in September, the percentage was 7% higher than desktop. That’s a relatively small gap in terms of percentage points — but it’s a significant reversal compared with earlier this year, when desktop held a 32% lead. And when taken together, tablets and smartphones dominate, grabbing 59% of minutes in September.
To entice consumer starting their shopping journeys via mobile, merchants should enact these last-minute tweaks:
Spotlight mobile in email. While it’s important for merchants to incorporate mobile promotions across all available touchpoints, email is especially crucial for the upcoming holiday kickoff. For example, 68% of consumers say they’ll find out about Cyber Monday promotions via email, according to measurement firm Nielsen — a ripe opportunity for merchants to both promote products and discounts and the means to continue engagement throughout the season on mobile devices. Even if merchants’ email messaging isn’t optimized for small screens (and it should be), the content should prominently promote mobile offerings, whether they be apps, SMS sale alerts, or an especially robust store locator on the mobile Web site.
Double down on mobile paid search. Any merchants with wiggle room in the budget at this late date should focus their paid search investments on targeted messaging for mobile. The percentage of clicks on Product Listing Ads from mobile devices jumped in Q3 to nearly a third of the total, with smartphones garnering fully one in five PLA clicks, according to The Search Agency. And while tablet cost-per-click rates now rival desktop pricing, smartphone rates still lag, making smartphone-targeted listings a relative bargain in the competition to engage shoppers at the outset of their shopping journey.
Mobile can play a huge role in store sales — in more ways than one. Across the board, analysts anticipate that mobile devices will see heavy shopping use while consumers are roaming physical store outlets. The MarketLive Consumer Shopping Survey found that more than half of shoppers intend to look for coupons or other discounts and to research competitive pricing while shopping in stores, and more than 40% plan to use their phones as research tools to look up ratings and reviews and in-depth product information.
While the prospect of this price-comparison shopping has long terrified merchants, as we’ve previously discussed, the greatest likelihood is that consumers who “showroom” will end up making purchases in the very store they’re visiting. To transform a potential threat into a sales opportunity, merchants should devote last-minute attention to:
In-store/online linkage points. Consider adding further store signage pointing shoppers to holiday-specific content on the eCommerce site, such as gift guides or gift card redemption policies. As well, merchants should use stores to promote social engagement opportunities such as holiday-themed contests as well as email subscriptions — thereby opening the door to repeat engagement with shoppers throughout the season.
Priming store associates to interact with mobile-empowered shoppers. The eCommerce site can play an especially vital role in the store experience when shoppers are guided by a brand expert in person. Among the ways sales reps can win business for the brand using online tools:
They can save sales via the “endless aisle.” If sought-after items are “out of stock” in physical stores, a heartening 47% of consumers said they would find another way to buy from the same brand, compared with 45% who would take their business elsewhere, Deloitte found. Knowledgeable store associates can lend a crucial assist to the 23% of shoppers who said they would locate the item at another of the same brand’s physical outlets, and to the 24% who would source the item from the same brand’s Web site.
They can distinguish themselves — and the brand — as knowledgeable experts. Fully 54% of shoppers said they’re be more likely to make purchases in stores where sales associates are knowledgeable, according to consulting firm Deloitte’s holiday forecast. The ability to quickly access relevant product information and connect shoppers with discounts via any available touchpoint can play a key role in building trust and credibility, especially as 59% of consumers currently believe they’re more knowledgeable than store staff about pricing and product availability.
What last-minute mobile tactics are you adopting for Black Friday and beyond?