So was it a mobile Christmas? Well, sort of. It certainly was an online one – and mobile played its part therein. But where mobile really came into its own seems to be in the clearance sales that start on 22/23 December and have seen people shopping for bargains right the way through Christmas – not least when Downton Abbey was on at 9pm of the big day.
So how does this impact the way retail works? Well, as John Lewis boss Andy Street has been widely quoted, online, click and collect and mobile bargain hunting are all forcing retailers to rethink how Christmas works.
I’d go further: I think it is forcing retailers to see that they need to drastically rethink how retail works all year round. If ever there was proof that convenience is the key, then this Christmas delivered it. Click and Collect – to a technology and sci-fi fan like myself a total anachronism: why waste the convenience of online/mobile by then still going to the store? – was the clear winner, with multitudes buying online then going to pick it up.
But this mobile bargain hunting hints at a more drastic change. Retailers start the sales moments before Christmas as, in the past, only people like me who hate shopping and Christmas headed out on Christmas Eve to buy gifts. Now everyone is at it. Mobile devices have allowed for a convenient way to sit at home, sipping Prosecco and eating chips and snaffling bargains galore. OK, they aren’t going to be delivered in time for Christmas, but you still get to shop.
This is a massive opportunity for retailers. They can shift full price stock to the click and collect clique right up until Christmas eve eve, then they can off load the unsold stuff to mobile shopping across the holiday.
But where does that leave them in January?
January is a dark and cruel mistress. No one has any money. No one wants to go shopping. No one really needs anything new – they are replete. The only draw was the sales. Now these are slowly being eroded by online and mobile shopping over the holidays. What is a poor retailer to do?
The smart money is on using online, mobile and stores as a marketing front to beat consumers into submissions. The power to buy bargains from the comfort of a yuletide fireside is tempered by the fact that, come January, the same mobile can be used to bludgeon shoppers into buying more and more bargains.
And that is what we are going to see more of in 2015 than ever before: mobile marketing. It will come through social media – now the preserve of the mobile shopper – and pure play mobile marketing using good old fashioned web, apps and, for the brave, push notifications. This is the real trend for 2015 as retailers now pedal furiously to get up that hill and into spring. Let’s hope they all got nice new bikes for Christmas.