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HSN taps SMS, push notifications to drive mobile-only holiday sales

HSN is getting a leg-up on Black Friday this holiday season by offering consumers mobile-only offers for shopping on the company’s site and applications.

The multichannel retailer is unveiling the mobile pre-Black-Friday offers on the two Fridays leading up to the big holiday shopping day. Last week, HSN leveraged push notifications and an SMS blast to its database of 900,000 subscribers to get the word out about the company’s first mobile-only offer.

“Unlike many that silo by channel, for us, [mobile] is one amazing experience,” said Bill Brand, chief marketing and business development officer of HSN Inc., St. Petersburg, FL.

“That being said, while it’s a seamless experience, we do differentiate opportunities by channels of discovery, and in the case of mobile, which is our fastest-growing channel, where almost 50 percent of our emails are now opened up via mobile, what can we do to further amplify the opportunity of this way of shopping with us,” he said.

“What we’ve done through the holiday season 2013 is that we’ve crafted unique marketing messages and offers for those that will be transacting and experiencing us through their mobile tools.”

Seamless shopping
?HSN is giving mobile shoppers the first look at Black Friday sales two weeks before holiday shopping kicks off.

The multichannel retailer has created a Black Friday section on its mobile apps and sites to offer exclusive offers on products.

Last week, HSN offered an Asus MeMO ten-inch Android tablet for $230 on Friday, which is normally $250.

A VuPoint photo and document scanner was also on sale for $100 compared to the regular price of $140.

In addition to using mobile as a marketing tool, mobile phones are a top-selling item for HSN.

Therefore, the brand included a pre-Black-Friday offer for a Samsung Galaxy SIII no-contract phone for $300. Typically the phone is $350.

The retailer will launch an additional mobile preview on Friday this week as well as another set of offers on Black Friday.

Additionally, television is a direct way for HSN to drive mobile awareness.

HSN’s recent third-quarter earnings revealed that 12 percent of total sales take place via mobile, representing a 57 percent year-over-year growth.

As the holiday season starts earlier this holiday season, mobile gives HSN a leg-up in increasing sales before the official launch of holiday shopping.

“The fact that all retailers are dealing with is we have one less week this holiday season because of where Thanksgiving is falling, so we need to maximize everyday of this quarter, and that is one of the opportunities that we look at for getting these Black Friday deals out as early as we are,” Mr. Brand said.

Another screenshot of a HSN Black Friday deal

Driving holiday sales?
After Black Friday ends, HSN will focus its mobile efforts on special offers for new customers and continue expanding its gaming efforts from desktop to mobile.

For example, consumers can play games through HSN’s mobile and online arcade to win prizes such as a Toyota car (see story).

The retailer will also run a mobile-only sweepstakes for the chance to win a $3,000 shopping spree. The sweepstakes will be supported by display ads.

HSN has been preparing for holiday shopping the past couple of months in optimizing all of HSN’s mobile properties.

HSN has changed the design of all of its emails in the last two months.

On the site and apps, creative has been tweaked to be shorter and calls-to-actions are bigger. Additionally, there is a new checkout flow with a cleaner and simpler look that supports guest checkout.

“We see [mobile] as our fastest-growing channel for sometime to come, and I think you will see through this quarter, we will have record-breaking days,” Mr. Brand said.

“I don’t know how high is high, and I think that speaks to the ability for us to market those unique messages, and it’s the ability for HSN to amplify the story of mobile and the convenience that it offers our customers – that’s the value of all of our platforms working together seamlessly,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York