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Mobile to drive spike in online shopping on Thanksgiving Day: Accenture

Online shopping is expected to see a spike over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend as mobile users will look for the best deals without having to visit a bricks-and-mortar store.

The percentage of consumers planning to do most of their Black Friday shopping online is up to 30 percent this year, compared with 25 percent last year, according to the report. Mobile will likely play an important role in sales on this day as well as Thanksgiving day, as users look for special offers from their smartphones while taking a few breaks from the festivities.

“It is very likely that smartphones and tablets are leading the charge in the spike in Thanksgiving Day online shopping,” said Renato Scaff, Phoenix-based managing director in the retail practice at Accenture.

“You can now be with the family, enjoying the football game traditions after a large meal, and it is pretty easy to also be using your tablet or phone to browse your favorite retailers’ offers,” he said. “What you see on Thursday afternoon, might lay the foundation for where you shop over the next five days and could influence where you shop during this year’s shortened holiday shopping period.

“Everyone always talks about making a good first impression. Your mobile impression on Thanksgiving Day is now as important as the circulars that get inserted into that day’s newspaper.”

The best deals
While mobile is a growing percent of online sales overall, the percentage of online sales from mobile devices could be even higher than usual on Black Friday as many users will be away from their desktops visiting family or friends and therefore and are more likely shop via nearby devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Last year, retailers saw significant increases in traffic and sales throughout the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and on the first day back to work, which is traditionally called Cyber Monday because consumers are in front of their workplace desktops again and still eager to take advantage of retailers’ sales.

However, some reports suggested that Black Friday was the biggest shopping day on mobile.

This year, 55 percent of shoppers say they are likely to shop on Black Friday, up from 53 percent last year and 44 percent the year before, according to the Accenture report.

The Accenture report also reveals that 38 percent of consumers are planning to shop on Thanksgiving day, with 41 percent saying they will be out shopping between 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day and 5 a.m. on Black Friday.

Among consumers planning to shop on Black Friday, 32 percent said their primary motivation will be to take advantage of ‘doorbuster’ deals, up from 26 percent in 2012, while 25 percent said ‘doorbuster’ deals would be the lure for shopping on Thanksgiving Day.

In general, shoppers are expected to be even more focused on discounts and deals this year, with 62 percent of respondents saying it will take a discount of 30 percent or more to persuade them to make a purchase, compared to 52 percent in 2012.

Showrooming grows
Overall, a growing number of consumers are planning to make purchases or research gifts using their tablets and smartphones during the 2013 holiday shopping season, according to the report.

Specifically, 19 percent plan to use their tablets for shopping this holiday season, up from 15 percent last year, while 18 percent will use their smartphones, up from 14 percent.

One of the big trends this year is likely to be showrooming.

The Accenture report found that 33 percent of those planning to shop via smartphone this year say they plan to use their device to compare prices inside the store, up from 19 percent last year.

Additionally, 63 percent said they planned to go into a physical store to a see a product and then search online for a better price and make a purchase online.

Retailers are increasingly leveraging mobile in-store to address this showrooming by delivering special offers and exclusive content to shoppers.

At the same time, 65 percent of consumers plan to browse online and then go into a store to a make a purchase.

The main reasons cited by respondents for why they would shop this way were to avoid shipping costs, 47 percent, and being able to touch and feel a product before purchase, 46 percent.

Retailers can take advantage of this trend by ensuring that mobile shoppers can easily place orders online and have them shipped to a store for pickup.

Accenture reports that 36 percent of consumers will be looking to take advantage of purchase online with in-store delivery or pick-up, while 21 percent will be looking to see up-to-date information on product availability.

Capturing consumer attention
While mobile shopping is growing, there are a number of consumers who are concerned about privacy and security issues related to shopping on their smartphones, with 28 percent saying they will not use a smartphone to shop, up from 26 percent last year.

Other key findings include that 42 percent of consumers plan to spend at least half of their holiday shopping online, 50 percent said they will shop at online-only retailers, compared to 44 percent in 2012.

For retailers, the report points to the need to ensure they deliver a strong mobile user experience over the Thanksgiving weekend.

“Retailers should understand that, given the rapid adoption of tablets and smartphones, the growth in mobile commerce during Thanksgiving will continue to be strong,” Mr. Scaff said. “They should ensure they are able to meet that demand and not be the ‘headline of the day’ for the wrong reasons, such as a website being down.

“Also, retailers should be evaluating their personalized offers, whether email, text message or otherwise, to ensure that their message captures the consumer’s attention,” he said. “The noise level will be at an all-time high, so landing your message seamlessly is key.”

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