The role mobile will play at Christmas

With Christmas feeling like a lifetime away for many consumers, the opposite is true for marketers for whom the Christmas season is already well underway. Christmas-themed emails are starting to trickle into our inboxes and the Co-op’s shelves have already started to fill up with mince pies. It is therefore not surprising that the speculation around which marketing communication channel(s) will be the most fruitful source of revenue for retailers this year has begun.

It seems that consumers are browsing retailers’ websites on mobile devices more than ever before. According to figures from IMRG and retailers, traffic to retail websites on mobile has exceeded the traffic generated from a PC for the first time, with 52% of traffic coming from mobile devices. This suggests that consumers are embracing the ability to ‘shop on the go’ and hints that Internet Retailing’s speculation that retailers will benefit from a multichannel ‘boost’ this Christmas may indeed be correct. However, to take advantage of the speculated high traffic at retailer’s websites, brands need to ensure that they can create value for their customers by proving a seamless online shopping experience by particularly emphasising on two areas that are, time taken to load the website during high traffic and the need of offering secure and efficient payment options.

Indeed, with so many gifts and groceries to be bought at Christmas time, mobile provides the answer to time-poor shoppers. It enables them to shop on the go and arrange to collect, or have said goods delivered to them, at a convenient time, saving them from the stress of having to set time aside to go Christmas shopping. According to a news article by Matthew Beard in the Evening Standard on 10th September, tube passengers have placed 10,000 orders for online groceries in the first 10 months since London Underground introduced click and collect services.

The question must be asked though whether you can really look to day to day shopping habits, over the first 11 months of the year, to determine shopping behaviours at Christmas? Whilst they may give an indication, Christmas is very much an anomaly in the calendar and shopping habits may stray dramatically from the norm over this period.

To explore this a little further, it is worth looking briefly at two of the main types of shoppers who will emerge over this season.

The Christmas loving shopper vs the time-strapped, queue-loathing shopper
Firstly, there will be those for whom Christmas is their favourite time of year. These shoppers will go out of their way to shop in-store for the atmosphere and experience, irrespective of their usual shopping habits and the convenience and time available.

The second type of shopper will be those who carry out as much of their shopping as possible online (be it on mobile or desktop) and do everything in their power to stay out of the store. This may be because time is their main consideration or it may be because they can’t stand the crowds and queues in-store over this period.

For both types of shopper, their usual shopping habits will not matter.

The opportunity to increase mobile presence over the festive period
Brands must not underestimate the opportunity Christmas presents to consolidate the positive shopping experiences existing customers have experienced on mobile and to attract and retain new mobile-shopping customers – As this applies equally to both types of shoppers addressed above. Marketers must have a Christmas focussed mobile commerce, and mobile CRM strategy in place to ensure that customers shopping on mobile will not receive a lesser customer experience compared to those shopping in-store. This will encourage repeat behaviour and prompt word of mouth recommendations.

For those shoppers shopping in-store, marketers should communicate with them via mobile, by sending (personalised) location based offers and following up with them after they have made a purchase – be it to check they are happy with their purchase or to offer a discount or promotion based on past shopping behaviours.

So, while we perhaps can’t look to day-to-day shopping habits to determine what shopping behaviours will look like over the festive period, what is certain is that mobile has a key role to play in the life of every shopper over this season, and marketers must make their mobile strategy a priority to take advantage of this. Traffic to retailers’ websites via mobile devices, is likely to remain at least as high as the recent figures show. Consumers are quite likely to use this as a tool to browse, even if they then purchase the goods in-store.

The information included herein is distributed for informational use only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be taken as such.  All clients are responsible for meeting legal requirements and other rules that apply to their messaging programs.  Consultation with legal counsel is strongly recommended.

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