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Surprising Shift to Mobile Shopping Will Improve Holiday Sales

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Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Saturday, 22 November 2014

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Cash is the fossil fuel that keeps our economic pistons pumping.” – Walter, “Home for the Holidays,” Paramount, 1995

Well, my daughter is busy lathering her fingers with ranch hand cream (she found it online and swears by it) to get ready for the holiday shopping season, has charged her “old” iPhone (thrown out hints) and has been practicing with her iPad.

Son has charged up his smartphone, tablet and the screen has been cleaned.

The wife? She’s cleaned her notebook keyboard and actually got the smudges off the case and screen.

Why?

Halloween is over and ‘tis the season.

They want to get ready for the big mobile shopping spree and beat the mobs Adobe and IBM have said will be hitting the websites ahead of Christmas, Black Friday and Thanksgiving.

 

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More than Just Apps – Almost every retailer has rushed to offer up a mobile app to improve their online presence and make it faster, easier, better for consumers to shop for products and services on-the-go. Mobilizing the sites continues to be a work in progress.

As real bargain hunters, the females of the family have downloaded (and tested) their target retail apps.

They’ve been surfing, marking sites (and checking them periodically just in case someone tries to slip a sale price past them) and planning their online shopping strategy.

This isn’t fun and games. This is serious business!

This holiday season – as in the past – there’s a slight revolt by some out there who think its wrong for stores to open on Thanksgiving for early shoppers.

Folks may not like it, but I wouldn’t stand in front of them when the doors open.

Even before then, you get the idea that everyone will have a drumstick in one hand and keyboard in the other.

That’s right, Adobe’s and IBM’s holiday predictors say 2014 will be a mobile shopping season.

IBM projects an increase of 15 percent over the five-day period while Adobe is more specific, saying prices will be four percent lower than any other day on Thanksgiving; and retail sales will be a record $1.35B, or 27 percent higher than last year.

Both firms indicate that through Christmas, 50-60 percent of the folks will do their shopping online and eCommerce sales will increase 15 percent over last year.

But most of the retail industry around the globe doesn’t have the ingenuity of the Chinese; they rely on “official” national holidays.

Alibaba (China’s eCommerce giant) and many of the other country’s online/offline retailers concocted Singles’ Day so unmarried folks could drown their loneliness by shopping!

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Buy Now Holiday – Alibaba and other Chinese retailers were looking for another way to increase sales so they came up with a great idea – invent a holiday. November’s Singles Day has been a country-wide boost to sales.

They took care of their loneliness to the tune of 57.1B renminbi or $9.3B … online!

The day may not have a real holiday pedigree but the revenues were real.

For online shoppers timing is critical, according to Tamara Gaffney, Adobe’s Digital Index principal analyst.

You may think prices may drop even further as we near Christmas and retailers work to move the inventory from their warehouse to your house; but Ms Gaffney said that after Cyber Monday, BAM!! prices go back up.

IBM noted that 78 percent of desktop web users will access eCommerce sites so ads, coupons, special offers will be fairly well targeted to your wants/needs.

But nothing beats mobile because well, carriers just know more about you.

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Mobile Profiles – Even if you select “do not track” on your mobile device, you’ll be surprised at how much data your service provider accumulates on your device usage and travels; but it’s all in the name of ensuring they serve you better … with just the right ads.

Not that this slows down mobile device users because it turns out, they seem to like the ads better on their go-with-em devices and personalized offers are more appealing.

As Leo exclaimed, “It's mine; you can't have it.”

IBM projects that 90 percent of tablet users and 90 percent of smartphone users will access and use the mobile eCommerce sites this year.

Earlier this year, they noted that 35 percent of the most popular eCommerce sites were only accessed by mobile devices, sometimes to buy.

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Not Equal – Google may try to tell you more smartphones are sold with their operating system (all flavors of it); but if you have eCommerce goals, you’re more interested in focusing on iPhone and iPad users because they simply buy more.

Sometimes for a whole lot more.

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More than Buying – The smartphone is beginning to slowly become the focal point for mobile purchasing but it is increasingly becoming the online device of choice to do product research--right up until the cash register rings.

comScore reported:

  • Consumers prefer to use commerce apps on their smartphones, but mobile browsers on tablets

  • Mobile shoppers are less price sensitive than those in the store and focus more on reviews and WOM (word of mouth) recommendations

  • Mobile commerce is seasonal, with the biggest increase in the last quarter of the year

  • Smartphones account for more m-commerce dollars overall, but per device spending on tablets is 20 percent higher

  • Mobile commerce is growing rapidly with 68 percent attempting to make purchases on their devices; and this holiday promises another significant increase

Both Adobe and IBM stressed that brick and mortar stores won’t be closing their doors because folks will be jabbing each other in stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday and they’ll shop with their devices.

Adobe estimates that at least a third of sales will come from smartphone/tablet use.

Not much of the sales volume will come from social media sites like Facebook (about 2 percent), but this year’s holiday shoppers will consult them before shopping.

Twitter has even become popular for researching products and alerting friends (and the world) to great special offers.

Adobe was so bold that they predicted this year’s hottest gifts based on social media buzz -- new iPhone models (daughter), Fitbits (everyone), and anything related to Disney's Frozen (doesn’t ring a bell).

We’re not sure what IBM is smoking, but they claim this shopping season is going to be freakin’ fantastic because of big data and analytics.

Of course, they offer this superb IBM ExperienceOne that gives their customers engagement solutions and services even though most industry experts say manufacturers and retailers may have a S*** load of data; but doing stuff with it is still a brutal work in progress.

Of course, Big Blue could be asking Santa for a huge bunch of retail/manufacturer orders for some of those great analytical tools that are helping “everyone else.”

That means you may get a few ads, a few coupons that have absolutely nothing to do with what you’re interested in.

As Claudia said, “You don't know the first thing about me.”

Ginni and her team already have a practiced answer if you get one or two of those misfired shots, “Those folks weren’t customers.”

Hey, I’ll believe her!

It doesn’t really matter because Jeremy Geiger, CEO of Retailigence, is already forecasting that even though web teams have tested, retested and retested their sites in preparation for the holiday season, a lot of servers will still crash.

He didn’t say it would be as bad as the U.S. government’s healthcare site, but that was a lowest bid with cost override clauses.

Will some servers crash under the weight?  

Sure.

Some folks just haven’t stress tested their sites to handle the big uptick in traffic – 10-20,000 visitors an hour.

But the favorite landing spots like Amazon, OWC, Zappos, Disney and others have added servers, improved software, fine-tuned pages, tested and tested and tested again.

The experienced sites will be great when it comes to computer and tablet traffic.

They’re steadily improving the handling everyone’s mobile traffic.

But the in-your-hand devices may still cause problems because frankly, you weren’t supposed to get comfortable using it for shopping/buying this quickly!

Search, research, price/quality, store checks sure, but click to buy was supposed to take awhile to become as natural as … well, shopping.

Mobile shopping will increase 10 percent compared to last year; and for those who know how to deliver relevant promotions to the device, it will be a whole lot better. Tablets will lead the access but smartphones will be close behind.

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And after you’ve done your mobile shopping/purchasing and taken the obligatory family photo, you’re ready for the real world.

You can go forth and face the bargain-hungry hordes.

Retailers should expect a four percent increase in sales during Nov./Dec. over the previous year.

Then, as Adele said, “: I'm giving thanks that we don't have to go through this for another year.”

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