Americans are more likely to be hitting the snooze button this Friday than getting up and in line for Black Friday door busters. The 71 percent of consumers sleeping with their smartphones under their pillow don’t need to go any further than the breakfast table for a good deal this year. Why go to the mall when they can go to their mobile devices for all their holiday sales needs?
The holiday shopping season is about to officially kick off and most consumers aren’t even going to wait until their Thanksgiving meals are over to tap into all the promotions lighting up their smartphones. Instead of door busters, they’re going to be looking for screen busters. In fact, in 2015, GPShopper’s clients saw a 241 percent increase in visits to their app and a nearly 400 percent revenue increase on Thanksgiving Day. After a year of steady mobile retail growth in general, it’s hard to ignore this shifting trend that favors phones over physical stores on what has become the biggest shopping day of the year.
Smart retailers aren’t glazing over this evolving trend either. In fact, they’re shifting their strategies to match consumer behavior, knowing the opportunity to reach shoppers now lies with Thanksgiving day itself rather than Black Friday and officially embracing the earlier start to the shopping season.
Convenience over everything
Before mobile was even an option for holiday shoppers, stores thought convenience meant longer opening hours around big retail holidays. In the days leading up to Black Friday, major locations remained open 24 hours for days before Thanksgiving – leading to customer and employee fatigue. However, as this is no longer the measure of convenience, retailers must adapt.
At the Money2020 conference, a Walmart executive noted that when surveying customers – especially in the coveted “mom” demographic – most valued saving time over money.
REI , A.C. Moore, and even the Mall of America are just some of the brands taking this insight to heart by listening to customers and closing their retail locations on Thanksgiving. This is further justified with the rise of “Buy Online, Pick Up In-store” initiatives that allow for easy purchase and the same instant gratification for shoppers they’d get from a typical Black Friday door buster sale. Mobile consumers feeling the full effects of tryptophan can shop pre- and post- Thanksgiving afternoon nap with the knowledge that the item they just scored a great deal on will be available for them to pick-up locally after the crowds die down. Additionally, mobile has forever changed how consumers prepare for the holidays as 38 percent of shoppers were holiday shopping prior to Halloween! And the popularity of Amazon’s mobile driven Prime Day (July 12), which alone drove more sales than Black Friday, makes deal shopping anytime easier than waiting until deals are at their best in mid-December.
First in the digital line not the door buster line
Consumers who take that extra step to download their favorite retailers’ mobile app expect to be rewarded for their loyalty. One key way that brands can show shoppers they’re paying attention to this is by allowing them to be first in line, digitally.
Companies such as Walmart, JC Penney, Sephora are listening to consumers requests by giving their most loyal shoppers early access to Black Friday sales as early as mid-November. Brands are seeing success with this because they know shoppers who do download their app spend more annually with the brand online and in-store.
For retailers that haven’t been totally sold on the mobile approach, it’s important to mention that push notifications are becoming a key way to connect with shoppers at any time through their mobile devices. While the traditional email blast approach holds its own merit, push brings a new level of immediacy to the customer interaction. Email can spend 6.5 hours in a shopper’s inbox before an action is taken, where SMS and push result in a 30x faster open rate.
Mobile Over Mall
While we can never call the mall dead, especially where holiday shopping is concerned, consumers are looking to mobile for an experience that is more convenient, enjoyable, and less anxiety ridden overall as they make purchases this season. Smart retailers are adapting.
About the Author
Maya Mikhailov is the CMO and Co-Founder of GPShopper, as well as a professor at New York University (NYU) specializing in mobile marketing and strategy. In recognition of her leadership in the space, Mobile Marketer recently named Maya one of the “Mobile Women to Watch” and the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) labeled her their “Guru of Mobile” two years in a row. Maya has been featured on Fox News and Women 2.0 as a “Female Founder to Watch in Mobile.”