Mobile Retailers are Winning the Holiday Shopping War

For most of us, the holiday season is a chance to relax with friends and family — but in the mobile retail world, it’s one of the most stressful times of the year.

Black Friday is approaching fast, and retail apps are gearing up. What can we expect from this year’s holiday season? Read on to find out.

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Mobile Retail Shopping and Black Friday 2016

There’s no doubt about it: mobile shopping is on the rise, and the annual Black Friday stats provide an easy window into this trend. Let’s examine a few of last year’s key metrics to see for ourselves.

TechCrunch reported that over half of Black Friday 2015’s internet traffic was from mobile. But there’s still room for desktop platforms in this equation: despite mobile’s dominance in traffic, only 40 percent of Thanksgiving day sales were from mobile platforms, followed by 35 percent on Black Friday.

All of these mobile metrics were up from 2014, so the trend hasn’t changed — mobile is still becoming the de facto way to browse the internet. But for now, mobile and desktop work side-by-side in the retail world. A great user experience on mobile could translate to a purchase on desktop or at a brick-and-mortar location. Right now, none of these mediums can be ignored.

What about specific messaging channels? Whether on mobile or desktop, email remains a driving force in the retail world. Last year, the aforementioned TechCrunch article reported that 14 percent of Thanksgiving day revenue was attributed to email marketing.

It’s fortunate timing that we recently rolled out our email messaging feature. With Leanplum, email doesn’t have to live separately from your app usage data. It’s easy to weave email into pre-existing lifecycle campaigns, making them as flexible as push notifications or in-app messages. Retailers can use email to share products outside of the app, ensuring that purchases can still be completed from other devices.

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Source: Unsplash

Mobile as a Research Device

Mobile has traditionally struggled with conversion rates when compared to desktop, but there’s more to these numbers than meets the eye. Research shows that mobile is still a deciding factor in the purchase funnel, even if the conversion happens on another device.

Currently, mobile is dominant as a research device. In last year’s post-Black Friday report compiled by Apsalar, we see that half of all shoppers compare prices on mobile while in brick-and-mortar locations. Mobile offers the unique chance to bring the transparency of e-commerce and m-commerce into the brick-and-mortar world.

For consumers, this is great news — it’s easier than ever to buy products with confidence at physical retailers, knowing that you couldn’t have gotten the item for less. This allows shoppers to enjoy the ambiance and product curation of brick-and-mortar retailers without sacrificing the price transparency of online shopping.

For retailers, mobile’s role as a research tool means that brands must beat the competition both online and offline. A poor mobile experience could hurt brick-and-mortar sales, just as a bad in-store experience could cause a mobile user to uninstall the brand’s app.

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Caption: Example of a multi-platform retail experience from Wanelo.

Furthermore, mobile is a discovery platform. According to Google’s research on the current state of mobile retail, 64 percent of smartphone shoppers turn to mobile to search for ideas about what to buy before heading to a store.

While it might be difficult to attribute mobile usability to in-store conversions, statistics show that there’s a connection between the two. If shoppers are turning to mobile for research with the intent of completing the purchase in-store, it’s crucial that you offer a superb mobile experience.

How Can Mobile Retailers Prepare for Black Friday 2016?

Whether your brand operates brick-and-mortar locations or not, the evidence shows that mobile performance is tied to sales. In addition to the year-on-year rise of mobile purchases, there’s a high chance that being discovered on mobile will improve conversion rates in other mediums.

With this in mind, these are a few things that mobile retailers can do to prepare:

  • Have a mobile retail app, and improve its ASO. Counterfeit apps are a big problem in retail, hurting the brand image of retailers who don’t have a presence on the App Store. Sometimes, official retail apps have trouble winning in search rankings against longstanding counterfeits. If you don’t have your own mobile app yet, now’s the time to get one.
  • Optimize the in-app experience for higher conversion rates. Even though mobile retail conversion rates have traditionally been lower than desktop, this trend is changing. Use mobile A/B testing to perfect your in-app experience, knowing that users really do complete purchases on mobile.
  • Message on as many channels as possible. As important as paid acquisition is for retailers, don’t neglect unpaid outreach. Email marketing brought in 14 percent of last Thanksgiving’s revenue, and push notifications remain an effective tool for keeping app users engaged.

Black Friday might be a stressful time for retailers, but it’s also one of the most exciting times. With the right strategy in place, retail apps can reap the rewards of society’s transition to mobile.

Leanplum is building the marketing cloud for the mobile era. Our integrated solution delivers meaningful engagement across messaging and the in-app experience. We work with top brands such as Expedia, Tesco, and Lyft. Schedule your personalized demo here.


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