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How mobile will impact the 2010 holiday shopping season

The holiday season presents an opportunity for retailers to enhance marketing messaging with tools to integrate shopping channels for a seamless experience, according to Retail TouchPoints’ Holiday Outlook 2010.

Analysts agree that this is the competitive differentiator and the retailers that present the most value and creativity will shine. The study points out that consumers value retailers that make it easier to spend.

“Shoppers today are looking for retailers to get into their shoes and add some value in every way,” said Laura Davis Taylor, vice president of global retail strategies at Creative Realities LLC, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ. 

Retail TouchPoints’ mission is to provide executives in customer-facing roles with relevant, insightful content across a variety of digital mediums.

Stimulus strategies
The study points to spending stimulus strategies like Target offering cardholders 5 percent off every purchase.

Applications like Shopkick have emerged with a retail-centric approach that ups the ante on checking-in, the study points out.

By synergizing location-based awareness with in-store offers and special rewards, the application certainly makes it easier to spend.

Shopkick utilizes custom hardware created and installed at partner stores such as Best Buy, American Eagle outfitters, Macy’s and The Sports Authority.

Customers that enter Best Buy with the Shopkick application open are immediately recognized via the mobile device. The customer is alerted with a message and points for deals within that particular location.

Best Buy has integrated Shopkick with its point of sale system to make redemption of special offers easier.

Boosting the customer experience
Nikki Baird, managing partner of RSR Research said that mobile queue management will boost the customer experience during the holiday shopping season.

“A virtual take a number that alerts customers when they are close to being next  in line so they can shop instead of waiting and is also good for returns and gift wrap,” Ms. Baird said in the report.

Text and badge alerts are also a useful technology during the holidays. Consumers can get notifications when a product on a wish list is running low or just got a new shipment.

There has been some concern over consumers tapping price comparison while in the store.

“I know there has been a lot of angst over price comparison at the shelf via mobile, but there is much more to be gained by boosting cell phone signals [in-store] than there is from blocking them,” Ms. Baird said in the study.

“Retailers aren’t ready to take advantage of interactions between mobile and in-store kiosks or POS – yet,” she said. “But expect to see some experimentation with that as retailers start taking more advantage of mobile.”

More than just apps
Mobile shopping success is going to depend on more than just applications, according to the input of Gary Schwartz, president /CEO of Impact Mobile, New York.

Mr. Schwartz said in the report that HTML5 will be very important during the holidays for driving sales.

Mr. Schwartz recommends that retailers take all the existing communications hubs in the store and see what can be done to facilitate heightened functionality and interactivity via the shopper’s phone.

For example, rebates, free standing inserts, coupons, receipts, kiosk, gift cards, product tags and spiffs can all be enhanced with mobile functionality

There are a number of ways to drive more effective conversion, per the study.

The key to a successful strategy is to look at mobile commerce in the context of social commerce. It is not a thoughtful process, but is very similar to the way we communicate on the phone: in impulse SMS responses.

This is why eBay does so well in mobile because it lets shoppers bid on products as if they were texting back and forth with a friend.

“For retailers to effectively tap into the shopper’s impulse behavior in-aisle this holiday, they need to see the phone as a mobile mouse that can click and activate non-interactive hubs in the store,” the report says.

“All engagements need to drive to a mobile opt-in and onward going efforts need to move the shopper back into the store,” it says. “Note that SMS is the only channel that exposes the shopper’s phone number and allows for an instant two-way dialog.”

Final take