Despite the fact we haven’t had the first frost yet here in the Northeast, you can already sense the anticipation surrounding the 2014 holiday selling season, and the watchword this year, more than ever, is MOBILE.
As is always the case, look no further than the numbers from the major research firms to provide a clue to just how important your mobile sales strategy will be over the next few months.
From mobile market analysts Custora comes this: the U.S. mobile e-commerce market is expected to hit the $50 billion mark by the close of 2014. A recent report they conducted also claims that over a third (36.9%) of visits to online stores is now coming from mobile devices.
And evidence of the impact of mobile e-commerce surrounds us everyday now. We see it on the way to work as commuters are completely immersed in their smartphones, in our kids at home now constantly spend time shopping for their “must haves” all day on their various devices, and even while we’re out shopping and bumping into people at the mall who are busy comparing prices on the fly.
Geez, take a close look at the new Amazon Fire smartphone. It’s designed around helping Amazon figure out the future of e-commerce, with its free year of Amazon Prime, a whopping 32-gigs of storage to store all that purchased content they’re hoping people buy with it, and the Firefly app that lets users scan an item and purchase in one-click.
While they won’t compete with the big boys in the smartphone market on sales, they will most certainly sell enough Fire phones to help plot their e-commerce future.
But What about Yours?
“Having your mobile e-commerce ducks in a row has been important for the last few years. The difference now is it’s become vital,” explained New York-based marketing guru Linda Conklin. “The ways in which consumers use the Internet are constantly evolving and the mobile Internet has now come a long way, and consumers’ relationships with their mobile devices are growing even more intimate. They can’t live without them.”
The authors of the Custora report certainly back up Conklin’s points as they are quick to point out how today’s mobile Internet experience is faster, the hardware is better and mobile screen resolution just keeps improving as well. The effects of all that are telltale.
“These shifts are reflected in e-commerce browsing: at the start of 2010, only 3.4% of total visits to e-commerce sites came from mobile devices (phones and tablets). Now, four years later, 36.9% of site visits are coming from tablets and phones,” explained Custora’s Kyle Shepherd.
With all the additional e-commerce traffic coming in from mobile, Conklin added businesses can expect an increase in mobile sales, and Shepherd claims she’s on target. The early numbers are indicating that the 2014 holiday retail season should see about one-third of all fourth-quarter sales coming in from mobile devices.
Social Media, Not So Fast
With regard to setting up your strategy, another nugget from the Custora report that is worth examining more closely is the fact e-mail marketing is apparently driving more mobile purchases than social media efforts these days.
The report explains that consumers responding to e-mail marketing and shoppers going directly to e-commerce sites (including app traffic) accounted for the highest share of purchases on smartphones. E-mail marketing generated 26.7% of sales on mobile phones, compared to only 20.9% on desktop and 23.1% on tablets. Social media, on the other hand, accounted for only 0.6% of sales on smartphones and 0.2% on tablets.
“Where e-mail marketing took some time for consumers to get used to, the worm has turned,” Conklin added. “They now actually expect to see offers on their mobile phones and happily surrender mobile phone numbers to get them. With social media, businesses hawking them can be looked at as a bit of a turnoff these days. There’s just too many privacy concerns there that simply aren’t as apparent with e-mail.”
Conklin also urges smart and frequent promotions of your wares to your mobile shoppers, mentioning “spend more, save more” deals, percentage-off sales and deal-of-the-week promotions to name a few of her favorites. And she adds it’s important to push these both in-store and out.
As she so bluntly stated, “It sounds trite, but the only way to truly benefit from promotions is to make as many customers as you can aware of them.”
There’s always a lot riding on Q4 sales, and it’s easy to overlook even the most obvious ideas. Think about what worked in the past: tweak those ideas to make them even more effective this time around and simply drop the things that haven’t shown a profitable return.
Simply stated, your customers are taking more pictures than they ever have. So make sure they know about all the incredible services you offer, the incredible new products and accessories you’re selling this holiday season, and your eagerness to help them with all things photographic—all available in an instant, right from their smartphone or tablet screen.