'Tis the Season for Mobile Customer Engagement

Mobile optimization and alerts will be the gifts that keep on giving for retailers long after the holiday season comes to an end.
Customer Experience

The holiday season has earned its reputation as the period when retailers pull out the stops to attract new customers and retain existing ones with targeted customer service and engagement tactics. During the upcoming holiday season engagement means appealing to consumers' new love for social and mobile channels in ways that are lucrative for all parties involved.

MarketLive's recent "Holiday Research Study" report reveals what consumers want from retailers during the upcoming shopping season. Conducted by the e-tailing group, this survey polled 1,027 U.S. consumers who have shopped online at least four times within the past year, own a smartphone, and spend an average of $250 or more online annually to present retailers with a roadmap for how to engage customers during the critical months ahead. Researchers note that, unlike last year, consumers demonstrate increased confidence when it comes to using their smartphones as shopping tools, indicating retailers' mounting need to engage customers across all channels-especially mobile-while using technology to personalize promotions and profit from evolving social dynamics.

The following statistics explore how shoppers expect to engage with retailers this holiday season and how emerging technologies will impact behaviors throughout the coming months:

  • Sixty-one percent of consumers plan to start their holiday shopping in September or October. Big discounts on irresistible products (70 percent) and early bird sales or pre-season family and friends promotions (46 percent) often inspire consumers to shop earlier than normal.
  • Consumers are more likely to purchase from retailers that allow them to reserve items online and purchase in-store (39 percent) or buy online and pick up in-store (35 percent). Shoppers also desire the ability to find products from another store and have them sent directly to their home (79 percent), as well as the ability to purchase items in-store for same-day delivery (77 percent).
  • On average, 57 percent of shoppers spend at least 25 percent of their holiday budgets on gifts purchased via Amazon. However, over the past year, retailers have introduced better prices (69 percent), special offers, or better promotions (51 percent), and on par or faster delivery times (25 percent), thereby drawing business away from Amazon and back to their brands instead.
  • When it comes to personalization elements, shoppers will likely take advantage of recommendations on the retailer's website (52 percent) and recommendations via the retailer's opt-in email base (55 percent).
  • Beyond credit card and security issues, easier checkouts (39 percent), alternative payment methods (34 percent), and full product selection (33 percent) may inspire customers to spend more via mobile.
  • Prior to visiting the physical store, shoppers use mobile to check for sales and specials (57 percent), check for coupons and promotions (57 percent), and look for competitive pricing via Amazon (52 percent). While visiting the store, however, consumers use mobile to look for competitive pricing via Amazon (63 percent), access promotional coupons for redemption at the in-store checkout (63 percent), and look for competitive prices on items at other online retailers (58 percent).
  • From the social perspective, looking for gift ideas on Pinterest (56 percent), product referrals from friends (54 percent), sharing product recommendations with friends and family (53 percent), retail advertisements (52 percent), and product discovery (51 percent) will be the most important activities this season.

Key takeaway: While emerging technologies seemed futuristic and intrusive mere years ago, retailers now recognize that such tools present untapped opportunities to engage customers via their preferred channels. Retailers must pay special attention to mobile, for these devices allow brands to connect with shoppers across all channels. From Web and social media, to email and text messaging, all relevant channels feed into mobile, empowering retailers to create seamless experiences that flow from one avenue to another. For example, 78 percent of respondents are likely to visit the store as the result of text promotions or alerts sent via mobile, while 62 percent of those polled will make a purchase as the result of notifications or offers sent to their mobile devices while in-store. Embracing such behaviors will enable retailers to expand their reach and achieve increased sales, as real-time engagement will encourage spur-of-the-moment purchases. Savvy shoppers simply cannot pass up the chance to save money, particularly during the holiday season, meaning such outreach will likely drive increased conversions during the busiest time of the year.