The smell of peppermint is beginning to fill the air, tunes on the radio are becoming undeniably festive and intricate lighting displays adorn houses before we have even carved our Thanksgiving turkeys. All these things make it clear that the holiday shopping season is upon us. This coming “Black Friday” marks the official kick-off, after all!
In 2016, people are moving faster than ever before and mobile interaction is essential. Smartphones have dramatically transformed the way that people browse, bargain-hunt and buy products.
As consumers leave one-horse open sleighs in their dust, it’s smart for brands to embrace SMS to avoid the same fate. And even though the retail market is top-of-mind as we deck the halls, it is not the only industry that can benefit from proactive notifications and mobility solutions.
Thinking like an on-the-go audience:
When U.S. consumers reach for their mobile devices, they aren’t simply relying on a phone, but rather, technology that has become an extra appendage. According to Google, 30% of people admit that they feel “anxious” when their phones aren’t at their side. It’s estimated that we spend 177 minutes on our phones daily—checking them 150 times! Customers aren’t simply reaching for the shiniest products on the shelves and throwing them in their carts; 82% of smartphone users research in-store purchases online first.[i]
Millennials make up a major chunk of big-time smartphone users and a generation quickly acclimating to the joys of parenthood. Their children are undoubtedly expecting a few gifts under the tree this year, and chances are pretty good that these Millennial parents will make sure Saint Nicholas comes through via their mobile devices. Research shows that 87% of parents in households with children use texting, and 72% of them have a positive perception of companies that offer the ability to text.[ii]
Changing the way we browse:
Gone are the days of whole-family outings in one’s “Sunday finest” on Christmas Eve to glamorous department stores, searching for gifts to crowd under the tree. There is no denying that foot traffic in stores has declined over the years, but this is not a bad thing; it’s just different!
People are doing their holiday research well in advance—giving a whole new meaning to “window shopping” and comments like, “Oh, I’m just browsing.”
Insights show that 43% of people planned to research products on their mobile phones last holiday shopping season.[iii] Although shoppers are spending less time in stores, they are spending more money during each visit they do make.ii It’s clear that customers are better equipped to make buying decisions based on the research and fact-finding they’re doing beforehand.
Changing the way we bargain-hunt:
Customer loyalty is shifting the “this is the brand I always buy” mentality, especially when it comes to peak shopping seasons. Customers are weighing all options when they shop, with 74% of surveyed customers intending to peruse various retailers. Factors like price, quality, brand familiarity and loyalty programs all play a factor in customers’ buying choices.iv
This is why it is so important for brands to engage customers in mobile promotions and interactions that will hit them at the right times, for the right stuff (here’s a hint: think convenience and customization.) 78% of customers are more likely to visit a store after receiving an SMS deal or mobile push notification. From a customization standpoint, 62% of survey respondents are more likely to adopt department-specific mobile notifications.[iv]
Changing the way we buy:
Customers aren’t just browsing and price-comparing on their smartphones; they’re buying as well. In the spirit of making quick, informed decisions, an astounding 82% of smartphone users planned on making holiday purchases via mobile last year and, not surprisingly, 28% were in a hurry when doing so.iv Incidentally, 60% believe that online research leads them to make faster buying decisions and, when they do their homework, they are 57% more likely to visit a store, 40% more likely to make a call and 51% more likely to make a purchase.iii
Changing the way we stay in touch and seek care:
In addition to browsing, bargain-hunting and purchasing, mobility is also changing the way that we stay in touch and seek customer care. Among smartphone and SMS users, texting is a common preference, with 64% of users preferring SMS over voice customer service. Among those who engage in text messaging, significant percentages prefer to do the following via SMS: check order status (38%), make a reservation (31%) and find a location (30%).iii
As brands make more proactive decisions to drive choice, convenience and control, customers will feel genuinely engaged and –bonus! – make less customer service calls for businesses to field. It’s estimated that mobile search will generate 73 billion calls to businesses in 2018.ii Wouldn’t it be nice to preempt some of that traffic by anticipating customer needs? Driving self-service through a less expensive channel, brands save valuable time and workforce energy for more complex conversations.
This holiday season, finding a reliable Wi-Fi connection just may usurp mall parking as consumers’ biggest shopping headache. Browsing, bargain-hunting and buying (not to mention customer service) are all transforming in the go-go-go society in which we live.
Google advises us to “Be There. Be Useful. Be Quick.” How? Solutions for proactive communication and mobility.ii
While it’s wise for retailers to heed this advice and focus on proactivity to stay ahead of speed crazy customers, the implications of evolving mobility stretch beyond retail and into banking, insurance, consumer services, logistics and probably even Santa’s workshop.
Happy holiday shopping season, from West!