Who wants to spend hours on end waiting in lines at the mall when you can take care of your holiday shopping via your mobile device? Between check-in deals, social coupons, scanner and price comparison apps, shopping has never been so easy. But does it really match up to the holiday spirit of in-store shopping?
Smartphones have developed so drastically over their short lifespan that the current technology allows for users to stay connected as much as you can from a computer, without even having to be connected to one. The phones have more power than ever before, and even larger viewing screens to assist consumers in these mobile shopping sprees. Shoppers frequently conduct research before making a purchase in-store or online, whether they are looking for the best price or consumer reviews on the product. This process has been simplified, as these new mobile search capabilities are not only helping the sales cycle in-store, but they are now enabling us to search for and purchase items all from one mobile device.
According to eMarketer.com and IDC Retail Insights, mobile shopping will account for 28% of holiday shopping this season, which translates into $127 billion of the $447 billion in holiday spending that has been forecasted by the National Retail Federation (NRF) for the U.S. Therefore, it has become more relevant for retailers to create a mobile presence either through a mobile app or an easy-to-use mobile web interface. In a recent survey conducted by Google, nearly half of the smartphone users questioned claimed that they were 'very'? or 'extremely likely'? to download a mobile app for their holiday shopping this year. According to Stacy Janiak, United States Retail Practice Leader at Deloitte, 'We are at the cusp of this technology really driving a lot of activity during the shopping season'?¦ It is both an opportunity and a challenge for a retailer, because you can have a consumer who can cross-shop your store with other brick-and-mortar stores or online, all from the convenience of your aisle.'?
For example, J.C. Penney launched an integrated marketing campaign in mid-November ('New list. New Gifts. Who Knew'?), that helped to showcase the chain as the place to find gifts that will top everyone's Christmas list. The campaign helped to raise awareness of the quality and breadth of merchandise that the retailer has to offer, and included national television spots, outdoor ads, print, digital, direct mail and of course mobile and social networking. The launch of their new mobile app, specifically for the holiday season (m.jcp.com), should be highlighted, as it allows consumers to make purchases right from their smartphone, while checking-in on Foursquare and Facebook Deals to receive special in-store offers. Mobile coupons are also sent to consumers via text-message, which give them the option to receive special offers.
However, one must raise the question of whether or not mobile shopping can really equate to that of in-store shopping during the holiday season. Part of the holiday tradition in my family is taking the time to make our lists, and visit the stores together for an evening of holiday cheer as we purchase gifts for family and friends. Some may argue that there is a lack of holiday spirit in shopping online, as you are not emerged in the excitement, smells of the holiday season, or the joy of stumbling upon the perfect gift that you may not have thought of otherwise. Technology can only do so much around the holidays; the rest is all found in the full-on experience of traditional holiday shopping. I, for one, will always take part in the experience regardless of how crazy the malls may be. Nothing in my mind can beat the holiday rush, as it only comes but once a year!