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Mobile will influence in-store shopping this holiday season: Deloitte

Mobile will play an increasingly important role in this year’s holiday shopping, according to research by Deloitte.

Online activity will influence in-store shopping this holiday season, as social networks and mobile applications are playing a more prominent role in the shopping process. As such, retailers should seek to deliver tightly-integrated and consistent merchandise, inventory and promotional messages to customers moving between Web-based and physical storefronts, the Deloitte study suggests.

“We expect mobile to play a significant role in this year’s holiday shopping,” said Alison Paul, retail sector lead at Deloitte, Chicago. “We have seen a real uptick in mobile usage and expect this trajectory to continue.”

Mobile shopping
Consumers are using their mobile devices to price comparison and do product searches.

In a survey of consumers in early May, 21 percent said they have used a Web-enabled mobile phone to locate stores or product information, shop or compare prices.

Store locators are key in mobile and all retailers should help their consumers find them using this type of offering, whether it is via a Web site or application.

In last year’s Deloitte holiday survey, 19 percent of consumers said they planned to use their mobile phones to assist with their holiday shopping.  

Generally speaking, retailers should expect only a small uptick in holiday sales this year, per Deloitte.

Consumers discretionary funds have dwindled as households remain focused on reducing debt and increasing their savings.

At the same time banks continue to limit access to credit and stimulus checks have run out. 

Holiday sales
Deloitte said that if consumers receive good tidings later this season in the way of falling energy prices or additional stock market gains, they may be able to lend retailers a bit more holiday cheer.

Deloitte’s retail group expects total holiday sales to reach $852 billion, representing a 2 percent increase in November through January holiday sales, excluding motor vehicles and gasoline, over last season. 

This growth rate represents a slight improvement over last year’s 1 percent gain. 

Both mobile commerce and ecommerce will be the bright spot in the holiday picture this year. 

Deloitte forecasts a 15 percent increase in non-store sales.  Nearly two-thirds of non-store sales are from the online channel (including mobile), with the remainder coming from catalogs and interactive television. 

Ms. Paul said that by reaching out to consumers via mobile applications, digital marketing and social networks, retailers today may be able to enhance brand awareness and build traffic and sales this holiday season.

“Mobile is changing the retail experience,” Ms. Paul said. “It offers price transparency on a whole new level as consumers are using phones during the shopping experience.

“It offers another way to get consumers at the point of impact when they are making their purchase decision,” she said. “Today you can reach out and touch the consumer when they are inside or outside of the store.”

Final take
Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor of Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer