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Walmart is sweet on in-app promotions for Valentine’s Day

Mobile promotional activity around Valentine’s Day is reaching new heights this year, with savvy retailers such as Walmart aiming for a bigger piece of the upcoming holiday’s sales by leveraging smartphones to deliver utility, inspiration and context.

One of the takeaways from the 2014 holiday shopping period was that the best mobile promotions do not simply repeat content from other channels but engage mobile shoppers with experiences that are relevant to them. A recent in-app promotion from Walmart is a good example because of its use of push notifications and support to help users find gifts by recipient or product category.

“This year for Valentine’s Day retailers are going to be providing extra incentives to try and encourage customers to shop and purchase on their smart phones,” said Sanjay Arora, CEO of Nextopia. “Many retailers will be offering promotions that are only applicable to smartphone or tablet purchases and not in-store.

“Promotions will range anywhere from a discount in price to a free gift and will act as an incentive to commit to a mobile purchase,” he said. “This year more than ever before retailers are spending more time developing strategies around mobile shoppers, in an effort to capitalize on that ‘mobile shopper.’”

Modest sales growth
Following mobile’s stellar performance during the 2014 holiday shopping season, retailers recognize that mobile is likely to play a bigger role in how shoppers research and complete purchases, both in-store and online, this Valentine’s Day.

In fact, a new survey from the National Retail Federation reveals that 24 percent of shoppers are planning to research products or compare prices on their smartphones for Valentine’s Day.

Overall, sales for Valentine’s Day are expected to be up only modestly compared with last year as consumers continue to watch their spending closely, according to the NRF survey. The average consumer plans to spend $133.91 on Valentine’s Day gifts, up from $130.97 last year, with total spending expected to reach $17.3 billion.

In terms of online shopping, 26.1 percent plan to shop online this year while 32.2 percent will do so on their tablets.

Unique experiences
While there is likely to be a lot of promotional activity leading up to Valentine’s Day, it is important that retailers make sure their mobile promotions meet the needs of smartphone users, who are often on-the-go and looking for quick and easy ways to complete their shopping.

Walmart wasted no time in ramping up its Valentine’s Day promotions, sending out a push notification to users of its mobile app the day after the previous promotional event – the Super Bowl game – took place.

The message highlighted Walmart’s low prices on jewelry, chocolate and other gifts.

When users opened the app, they could browse gifts for her, him, kids or couples. Graphical boxes were arranged in a grid format, each showcasing multiple items for a specific type of recipient and highlighting the price of one item. Tapping on the box brought users to a list of items in that category that could be clicked on to make a purchase.

Users could also gift ideas grouped by product categories such as jewelry, beauty, technology and intimates.

Also featured was Valentine’s Day recipes and baking supplies.

“This Valentine’s Day, mobile optimization will play a big role in retailers overall strategy to drive sales,” Mr. Arora said. “Retailers are going to play on the fact that the majority of shoppers are constantly on the go.

“Ensuring the mobile site or app is appropriately branded for Valentine’s Day and providing a ‘Valentine’s Day Shopping Guide’ through unique landing pages and banners are two strategies many retailers will be turning to,” he said.

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