Commentary

Holiday Shoppers Head to Store, Phones in Hand

It looks like holiday shopping by mobile phone will be bigger this year, shoppers will start early and most retailers who don’t have items when desired will lose the sale.

Everything around holiday shopping seems earlier this year, including the flood of research and studies forecasting the coming impact.

The majority (54%) of shoppers expect retailer holiday promotions to begin by now, with most (85%) expecting them to begin before Black Friday, according to one survey.

That survey was conducted by Kelton Global for RetailMeNot, whose internal data suggests that mobile Web visits may surpass desktop this year.

Even with all the mobile and online sales growth, nine out of 10 purchases still happen in a physical store, according to RetailMeNot.

But mobile continues to grow as a percentage of online sales. For example, almost a third of U.S. consumers make most of their online purchases on a mobile device, according to a new global study by Pitney Bowes. Here’s how consumers are purchasing via mobile by country:

  • 37% -- U.K.
  • 36% -- India
  • 34% -- China
  • 29% -- U.S.

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And while most consumers make their final purchase in a store, mobile plays a significant role along the entire path to purchase.

For example, the majority (78%) of shoppers are likely to visit a store as a result of a text promotion or other mobile alert, according to another new study.

The MarketLive Holiday Research Study was conducted by the e-tailing group and comprised a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers who shopped online at least four times within the past year.

With most of the money-changing-hands action taking place in a store, the mobile influence on the sale may not be highly visible. For example, most (62%) shoppers will make a purchase as a result of a notification or offer sent to their mobile device while in a store.

Many (42%) shoppers also are likely to take advantage of personalize advertising they receive on their smartphone, according to the e-tailing group research. Most (55%) are comfortable sharing their preferences with retailers in exchange for convenience and personalized product recommendations, which is consistent with other studies.

And not all in-store mobile activity is hidden.  While in a store, most (69%) shoppers will ask an in-store associate to use a mobile device to locate a product and have it shipped to their home.

While in a store, most (69%) consumers actually want text messages to receive coupons or be alerted to promotions.

Curiously, most (66%) said they want the ability to pay via mobile device using a method beyond standard credit card such as PayPal or Apple Pay.

Even though the holiday shopping season looks to be strong for mobile, deals rule pretty much all the time.

The majority (51%) of consumers said they take advantage of deals throughout the year regardless of major holiday sales, according to the RetailMeNot research.

But for this holiday season, retailers better have what shoppers are looking for, based on yet another shopping study.

That study comprised an online survey of the YouGov Plc panel in the U.S., U.K., France and Germany, conducted for GT Nexus.

It found that most (75%) U.S. shoppers have dealt with an unavailable product in a store within the last 12 months and more than a third (38%) experienced out-of-stock items often or very often.

A third (33%) of disappointed in-store shoppers blamed the retailer and most (58%) of the disappointed shoppers became lost sales, with the consumers either buying from another retailer or not buying at all.

Consumers this holiday season will be shopping often and early and will be constantly tapping mobile all along the way.

No matter the ultimate size of holiday shopping this year, mobile again will be big.

 

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