2 Ways Retail Brands Can Win Over Holiday Shoppers: Think Mobile, Get Social

Fifty per­cent of hol­i­day shop­pers intend to buy gifts via their mobile devices and 49 per­cent will make pur­chas­es based on a social refer­ral.

Lisa Lacy By Lisa Lacy. Join the discussion » 0 comments

More than half of the par­tic­i­pants in a recent sur­vey say they plan to spend about the same amount of mon­ey on hol­i­day gifts this year as they did in 2013, which makes for anoth­er com­pet­i­tive retail sea­son. In addi­tion, many of those con­sumers will buy at least one gift from behe­moth Ama­zon. Mar­ketLive, a provider of e‑commerce tech­nol­o­gy and ser­vices that con­duct­ed the sur­vey, says the best ways for retail­ers to dis­tin­guish them­selves are to cater to mul­ti­task­ing mobile con­sumers, pro­vide rewards for social activ­i­ty, and focus on their nich­es.

Mar­ketLive, a provider of ecom­merce tech­nol­o­gy and ser­vices, announced the results of its Annu­al Online Shop­per Sur­vey for the 2014 hol­i­day sea­son, which it says pro­vides mer­chants with a “roadmap for engag­ing shop­pers dur­ing the next few months.”

Provide A Jolly Mobile Experience For Consumers

Fifty per­cent of hol­i­day shop­pers intend to buy gifts via their mobile devices and 49 per­cent will make pur­chas­es based on a social refer­ral, accord­ing to the sur­vey. In addi­tion, Mar­ketLive says 36 per­cent of those respon­dents plan to pur­chase half or more of their gifts via a mobile device, 70 per­cent are like­ly to do research on their smart­phones and 56 per­cent are like­ly to reserve prod­ucts from their smart­phones for pick-up. The shift to mobile is well known, but Mar­ketLive CEO Ken Burke said retail­ers are still caught off-guard in terms of mobile readi­ness over­all. In addi­tion, Burke says Mar­ketLive works with sev­er­al retail­ers that do big busi­ness for Hal­loween, so it has what he calls a “pre­cur­sor” to the hol­i­day sea­son. As much as 50 per­cent of sales on these Hal­loween sites are com­ing from mobile because con­sumers are buy­ing prod­ucts on the go, Burke said. Retail brands need to think about how they can pro­mote mobile in their over­all strate­gies with mer­chan­dise that address­es the mobile cus­tomer or pro­mo­tions specif­i­cal­ly tar­get­ed to mobile cus­tomers. That being said, retail­ers do have bet­ter mobile sites over­all with respon­sive designs and are pay­ing more atten­tion to make the over­all user expe­ri­ence bet­ter and mak­ing check­out and pay­ments eas­i­er. “Next year, the trend will be mobile pay­ments,” Burke said. Thanks in part to the rise of Ama­zon Pay­ments, Visa Check­out, Mas­ter­Pass and Apple Pay, Burke said alter­nate pay­ment meth­ods are only begin­ning.

Social: The Gift That Will Keep Giving

In addi­tion, 30 per­cent of par­tic­i­pants in the Mar­ketLive sur­vey say they’ve made a pur­chase as a direct result of inter­ac­tions on social media, 49 per­cent will make a pur­chase because of a social refer­ral and 44 per­cent intend to dis­cov­er new prod­ucts via social net­works. Once prod­ucts have actu­al­ly been pur­chased, 52 per­cent feel it is impor­tant to review prod­ucts they have pur­chased, 48 per­cent say it is impor­tant to share prod­uct rec­om­men­da­tions with friends and fam­i­ly via social chan­nels, and 42 per­cent will pin items on Pin­ter­est. One way to cap­i­tal­ize upon such will­ing­ness to pro­vide con­tent is to encour­age cus­tomers to com­ment on Face­book posts on prod­uct pages or to do Q&As and encour­age con­sumers to ask ques­tions and let their social net­works answer those ques­tions. “What we’re find­ing is dri­ving sales is lit­er­al­ly the mer­chant cre­at­ing social activ­i­ty on the site,” Burke said. That means dis­counts for refer­ring friends or “pin it to win it” pro­mo­tions on Pin­ter­est. “A reward for doing some­thing social­ly – that’s where the mag­ic is,” he adds.

Can Retailers Compete With Amazon?

While com­pe­ti­tion from Ama­zon and its influ­ence on pric­ing is always an issue, the sur­vey shows that retail­ers can have a great hol­i­day sea­son by focus­ing on key areas that will affect shop­ping behav­ior. Not­ing Ama­zon is “always a force to be reck­oned with” and “the num­ber of cus­tomers that are going to buy at least one gift from Ama­zon is extra­or­di­nar­i­ly high,” Burke said all hope is not lost for oth­er retail brands. One great way to com­pete with Ama­zon more force­ful­ly is with a great mobile expe­ri­ence, but also to look at “the things Ama­zon doesn’t do as effec­tive­ly for your spe­cif­ic cat­e­go­ry.” In oth­er words, retail­ers “have like cus­tomers with like inter­ests and a brand can be very effec­tive and be very niche‑y by cre­at­ing great con­tent,” Burke said. In addi­tion, Burke says, “Free ship­ping, free ship­ping, free ship­ping. With thresh­olds, that’s prob­a­bly the sin­gle best dis­count you can do. It helps lim­it your expo­sure a bit and any­thing tied to free ship­ping is the #1 dis­count.” Accord­ing to Mar­ketLive, the sur­vey includ­ed a “ran­dom sam­ple of 1,000 U.S. con­sumers who had shopped online at least four times with­in the past year, own a smart­phone, and typ­i­cal­ly spend $250 or more online annu­al­ly.” Mar­ketLive says it pow­ers ecom­merce sites like Armani Exchange, Par­ty City, Per­ri­cone MD, Sport Chalet, Sun­dance, Helzberg Dia­monds, John Deere, Title Nine, and Inter­mix.

Lisa Lacy

Written by Lisa Lacy

Lisa is a senior features writer for Inked. She also previously covered digital marketing for Incisive Media. Her background includes editorial positions at Dow Jones, the Financial Times, the Huffington Post, AOL, Amazon, Hearst, Martha Stewart Living and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

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