The holidays are upon us again and with the season in full swing, it's important to know how retailers can best leverage current market conditions for success. The National Retail Federation predicted that sales will uptick 3.6% overall in November and December to $655.8 billion this year1. And Forrester predicts that cross-channel retail sales will reach $1.8 trillion in the U.S. by 2017.
Consumer spending upticks every year around the holidays with retailers hiring additional resources and beefing up marketing strategy. This year, technology will be at the forefront. According to Listrack, mobile devices and personalized emails will dominate the 2016 Holiday season2. Consumers are now spending most of their days on their mobile devices. Retailers should consider reaching their consumers on the platforms where they interact the most and send customized deals for shoppers to their phones when near a store. For information on an easy way to work geolocation marketing and wayfinding into your strategy, click here.
The holidays are a prime time for retailers to impress consumers through new marketing tactics on all highly trafficked digital platforms. There is an increasing demand for a more personalized experience both in stores and online and technology can lend efficent solutions to accomplish this. Richard Prime, CEO of Sonovate, believes many retailers are still struggling to enter the digital age. Mostly because of their hesitation to take advantage of new technology like marketing automation, virtual reality and augmented reality3. Brands that are looking to driving consumer engagement through both digital and physical retail environments will be be most successful.
So how are mobile devices and personalization driving sales? There are many components to this shift.
"The consumer’s increasing engagement with mobile, the rise of the omnichannel marketing strategy (animated by the ability to engage with customers at any point in the buying journey), and the ever- increasing data pool — with wearables, augmented reality, virtual reality, and the Internet of Things — allowing brands to load up on customer insights,” Joann Whitcher, Senior Producer at Haymarket Media Group, said4.
The internet has enabled super-specific and special interest items to be available for sale at scale by pretty much anyone (think Etsy) and this has magnified the importance of customer experience5.
eCommerce over the years has become an all inclusive one-stop-shop for consumers looking to purchase almost anything on the open market. This availability of information and the increasing quantity of retail impressions made online has created an environment of high buyer expectations. “Armed with the power of social media, consumers today are a demanding lot. Not only do they want convenience, speed, and ultra-high levels of customer service, but they also want to know they are receiving the best possible price for the product, (And if you don’t comply, their 1,000-plus Facebook and Twitter followers are sure to read all about it.)” Whitcher said6.
50% of shoppers would be more likely to buy in store if given mobile apps to improve or personalize the in store experience7. According to DMN, mobile payments, beacons and geo-targeting have become critical to retail marketing.
During the Holiday season, 39% of customers use their phone to look for an item in a search engine, like Google, Bing or Yahoo, to find a local retailer. 28% of customers also use their mobile phones to check availability of items at specific local retailers8. And 64% of shoppers would be more likely to buy in store if given digital media to learn more about products and how to use them9.
As of 2015, almost half of online USA retail shopping traffic sources came from mobile devices. This year mobile will account for 22% of all retail ecommerce sales dollars in the USA10.
Buying habits and expectations have evolved as the world becomes more and more mobile. Easy access and easy purchasing are qualities in which consumers now expect rather than rejoice over. Self check-out lines at grocery stores and Amazon's easy checkout process are examples of this improved buyer experience. “Buy buttons, like Amazon’s Dash, provide mobile shoppers with easier functionality than before,” Whitcher said11.
Improved buyer usability is both a logical and efficient strategy to improve brand impressions on the market and easier selling points for retailers. Retailers have now started to use mobile devices for checkout in stores. "Today, mobile phones are still best suited for upper-funnel shopping activities like comparison shopping, product research, and browsing and product discovery," notes L2.