Shoppers are expected to spend £4.6bn online this Christmas. Twenty percent of it – almost one billion – will be through mobile, according to IMRG Capgemini. That’s a 15 per cent rise from last year. In the first quarter of this year just 8.2 per cent of online sales were made using a mobile.
Ebay expects more than 30 per cent of its Christmas sales to come through mobile devices and says that more than half (55 per cent) of UK shoppers plan to use their mobile more this year than last either to research, check prices, look for inspiration or to make final purchases.
There are some great examples of how retailers are looking to encourage mobile use this year. Boots’ gift finder app, for example.
Ruth Spencer, Boots head of insight and the woman behind the app, lives by the rule that if there is no reason for anyone to come back to your website, your app or any other digital initiative more than three times, it’s not worth doing.
It’s a simple rule of thumb but one that a lot of brands and digital marketers would do well to learn from.
The result of applying such a common sense rule is that the Boots gift finder app will be of genuine use this Christmas.
It integrates with the phone book on your smartphone so you can create a gift list and assign products to the people you’re buying for. It helps you search by price, brand, type of gift or type of person you’re buying for.
It takes into account that many people turn to its Christmas gift range for secret Santa presents under £5 or £10 and it tells you if you could add another item to make the most of its ever popular three for two offer.
You can then buy the items directly and have them delivered to your house or for collection at your local store.
It is set up to be useful whether you are doing your research on the move or whether you are in-store looking at the items on shelf because you can scan the items you like and add them to your gift list as you go.
The same is happening in the US as retailers look to encourage shoppers to use mobile.
In the US, eBay expects mobile sales to grow to around $10m this year and is hoping to boost it with a Thanksgiving promotion designed to encourage people to shop by mobile to avoid the stress of shops during the festive season.
It has partnered with a chain of day spas to offer free manicures, pedicures and foot massages as well as exclusive mobile promotions and offers for customers shopping via mobile with eBay while visiting the spas.
It’s not just online retailers pinning their Christmas hopes on mobile, shopping centres are also turning to devices and digital to drive footfall to physical stores.
Jones Lang LaSalle, a shopping centre operator in the US, has forecast that sales during the holiday season will increase 4 per cent this year, adding that the growth will be driven by retailers’s ability to adopt digital tools, such as Facebook, Pinterest and mobile to influence shoppers and get them into local shopping malls.
Capgemini’s head of retail and technology Chris Webster is right when he says that mobile is now a “must have not a nice to have”. Successful retailers this year will be those that have embraced the new dynamic smartphones bring to retail by introducing free in-store Wi-Fi or developing dedicated apps designed to make mobile an easy part of Christmas shopping.