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60M consumers will shop via mobile over Thanksgiving weekend: study

The upcoming Thanksgiving holiday weekend will be the biggest one yet for mobile shopping with an estimated 60 million consumers planning to use their devices to shop, research purchases or seek retailer information, according to a new report from InMobi.

Mobile users will increasingly reach for their handsets over the Thanksgiving weekend to help with a wide variety of shopping activities, according to InMobi’s Holiday Mobile Shopping Study. The results reflect the critical role that mobile will play for retailers during the upcoming holiday season.

“The single most important message for marketers and retailers is that mobile phones will play the biggest role yet in fueling shopping activity this holiday season,” said Susan Kuo, North America head of marketing for mobile ad network InMobi, San Mateo, CA.

“Whether you are an offline or online store, it is imperative that you consider the impact of mobile as it will be a critical tool in all facets of shopping this holiday season, from price comparison to purchases happening directly from consumers’ mobile devices,” she said.

“Those marketers that identify this early on will have a big advantage and opportunity to differentiate themselves by creating an engaging mobile experience.”

Price comparison
Approximately 45 percent of mobile users plan to compare prices via their handsets during their Thanksgiving weekend shopping, up from 22 percent in 2010.

Not only will consumers use mobile to research products but, over 21 million, or 36 percent, plan to make purchases directly from their mobile devices.

“I think the biggest surprise we found was a staggering 42 percent of mobile shoppers plan to use their mobile devices to shop or research sales on Cyber Monday, which has traditionally been dedicated to online shopping,” Ms. Kuo said.

“This finding is a fairly strong support that mobile is cannibalizing desktop shopping,” she said. “Online merchants will have to pay close attention to this trend that while the profile of their customers may not change, the medium in which they’re accessing their stores will increasingly move to mobile devices, and that means having to make an aggressive move to ensure that that their mobile shopping destinations are user-friendly and to have a strong mobile advertising strategy in place.”

Immersive mobile experiences
Other findings from the report include that 29 percent of users will look to mobile devices to learn about new products or services, 27 percent will use their handset when making a purchasing decision and 15 percent of shoppers will use their mobile device to make a purchase while in a store.

In terms of the types of information mobile users will be looking for via their devices this holiday season, 31 percent said they will look for updates on sales and promotions, 27 percent will look for local store hours and directions, 26 percent will seek out product information and availability, 26 percent will be interested in product photos, 18 percent will search for official retailer apps and 17 percent will use mobile for customer support.

The survey was conducted during the last week of October and the first week of November. There were 907 respondents with devices across all the major platforms in the United States.

“Given the myriad of information that shoppers are looking to obtain from their mobile devices, retailers and marketers should be looking at integrating those information and features into their mobile destinations, whether it is an app or mobile Web site, and making it as easy as possible for consumers to find this information,” Ms. Kuo said.

“Given the depth of information that consumers are looking to seek on mobile devices, especially given the focus around product information and photos, advertisers may also want to consider leveraging HTML5 and rich media ads to deliver a more immersive and customized experience to engage mobile users prior to them even arriving to their mobile destination,” she said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York