The Mobile Imperative During The Holidays

It’s no longer a question of whether or not consumers will adopt mobile as an interaction and transaction channel this holiday shopping season. Over the last year, mobile has proven itself to be a viable channel that will play an increasingly prevalent role this year and in future years.

Case in point: mobile retail set records this holiday shopping season with 16 percent of all online sales being conducted through a mobile device -- compared to 9.8 percent last year. In addition, 24 percent of consumers use a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site, up from 14.3 percent in 2011. Whether it’s a tablet, an iPhone, or an Android, consumers are researching more products and making more purchases than ever before through their mobile devices. A full overview of the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark Cyber Monday data, which is a cloud-based web analytics platform that tracks more than a million e-commerce transactions a day, analyzing terabytes of raw data from 500 retailers nationwide, can be found here.

Why the mobile push? For consumers, it’s about convenience, efficiency, and accessibility, whether shopping online or in-store. Some traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, however, are still wary of mobile and hesitant to bridge ecommerce mobile initiatives with the in-store experience. That attitude has to change in order for these retailers to keep pace with the multiscreen, digital consumer. Today, four in 10 smartphone users search for an item and research prices while they’re right in the store.

This idea of “showrooming”is a new trend, but it’s here to stay and it hurts brick-and-mortar stores. After all, in my recent blog, “As the Holidays Approach, Stores Need to Worry about Being Showroomed,” most showrooming shoppers told us they find cheaper prices online when they research them. And it’s not just consumer electronics and high ticket items, it includes other categories like apparel, footwear and even groceries.

What can retailers do to get ahead of the mobile movement? They need to consider ways to avoid losing sales to mobile price research through price-matching, personalized in-store service, and loyalty programs.

Marketers also need to find a way to coordinate between the in-store channel and the mobile channel to keep customers in the aisle and close the sale – or be left behind. Instead of fighting the mobile trend, retailers can embrace it and turn it in their favor by aligning marketing and IT. Combining the consumer and marketing expertise of the CMO and the technology and implementation expertise of the CIO will help ensure a smooth transition between mobile and other interaction channels.