The holiday shopping season typically starts on Black Friday. However, this year many retailers kicked off the season earlier than previous years. For the first time, Walmart joined Kmart, Toy R Us, and other retailers in opening their doors for holiday shoppers at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving day instead of 5 or 6 a.m. on Friday, while Target and Kohl’s opened theirs at midnight. This strategy reflects the current competitive environment for brick-and-mortar retailers. For years these retailers saw their shares being chipped away each holiday season by internet retailers. By opening earlier, retailers are expanding the shopping hours as well as attracting younger customers. While fighting off the pesky e-commerce competitors, retailers now also need to pay attention to a new shopping channel: mobile commerce.
Mobile commerce, or m-commerce, can be a threat or an opportunity for retailers. According to a recent survey conducted by Sybase 365*, a subsidiary of Sybase Inc., and the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), more consumers are planning to use their mobile device to make a purchase this holiday season than ever before. The survey found that 62% of mobile phone owners would be willing to make a purchase with their mobile devices this holiday season if prompted by coupons, discount offers, text alerts, gift cards or loyalty points, up from 32% last year. In the absence of coupons, discount offers or other enticements suggested above, 56% of consumers surveyed would be likely to use their mobile device for one of the following uses: to find a store location (38%), compare prices (34%), researching deals and coupons (28%), find a product review (27%) or make a purchase (22%).
While this latest survey shows a growing appetite for m-commerce, brick-and-mortar retailers should not feel threaten by this new channel. In fact, m-commerce presents a promising new way for retailers to engage with their customers and draw foot traffic to their stores. Some of the retailers who are embracing this channel and do it very well include Starbucks and Best Buy. To learn more about mobile commerce, you can visit a number of sites including the MMA, Mobile Commerce Daily, Internet Retailer, and read blogs by Matthew Talbot and Haridas Nair of Sybase 365.
*Disclaimer: Sybase 365, a unit of Sybase Inc., is a CJP client.