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Christmas comes early (for mobile at least)

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As I predicted last issue, this week’s newsletter features veritable Santa’s grotto of stories predicting about the huge impact mobile is going to have on Christmas shopping this year. And naturally, shopping on mobile this year is going to be significantly up on last year, continuing the growth of mobile year on year.

But what is most significant is the impact mobile is going to have on all facets of Christmas shopping this year, especially in the high street.

While there is plenty of evidence – as seen by our stories this week – that mobile and particularly tablets are going to be a place where people buy their Christmas goodies, as well as starting to do their sales shopping on the big day itself, it’s the fact that mobile is increasingly becoming the starting point for shoppers, both in the comfort of their own homes and actually in stores.

We are all familiar with the concept of ‘showrooming’ where shoppers come into your stores and use them to look at goods and then buy them more cheaply through e-commerce on their mobile there and then. But what the run up to this Christmas is likely to see if a skyrocketing in this concept – something that impacts all high street shops dramatically.

Of course, as we get nearer to Christmas this will slow down – since deliveries of online purchased goods won’t arrive in time – these crucial next few days will see massive amounts of trade in high street shops lost to cheaper online operations.

According to research by EKN in the US, 80% of retailers will be affected by showrooming this holiday season. Research in the UK by IBM more cryptically points to mobile as being more of an influencer than ever before when out shopping – which does lead to in-store purchases, but also to showrooming purchases.

This is a big deal to retailers and one that, each year, will continue to erode the profitability of high street retailers.

But it also presents an opportunity. As more retailers start to have their own wifi networks in their stores to aid instore mobile commerce, many fear that it will inevitably lead to more showrooming. But rather than rail against it, retailers should look at how to turn this to their own advantage.

Knowing the someone is in your shop, looking at your stock and then trying to find it somewhere else actually presents a golden opportunity to market to them. And the ideal device through which to do that is the mobile.

The simplest thing to do is to track what consumers are doing and, if they look like they are showrooming around a particular product, pop them a marketing message to match whatever deal they are getting online.

It is also an opportunity for a floorwalker to step in an offer some sort of discount, better delivery terms, upsell or some other incentive to shift their own stock rather than see the business go elsewhere.

This of course requires a huge change in how you sell – moving almost to a form of reverse barter economy, where the shop barters with the consumer.

Can it be done and maintain profitability? That is something for retailers to assess, but while analysts – and, let’s face it, me too – are getting excited by the ever growing impact of mobile on retail, it is undeniable that mobile’s impact on shopping are much more complicated and far reaching than anyone often cares to think about…

… and then of course there is the whole other thorny issue of how tablets are impacting e and m-commerce. But that’s another story for another issue.

STOP PRESS SoLoMo Retailing: the key to IRX 2013 at the NEC
The next mega Internet Retailing Expo is set to take place at the Birmingham NEC on 20 and 21 March and we will be focusing an entire track on the burgeoning world of Social-local-mobile retail. SoLoMo.

For those of you who think that SoLoMo was the saucy lady who danced in the nip in return for John the Baptist’s head on a plate, let me explain.

SoLoMo is the concatenation of the worlds of social, locational and mobile retailing that are propelling mobile into the heart of the digital commerce experience. The SoLoMo track will dance around the ideas of who mobile social, mobile location and mobile in general – and that includes tablets my friends – are all coming together to deliver an enhanced and more engaging experience.

It will look at not just straightforward social and mobile retail, but also the role SoLoMo plays in marketing, loyalty, showrooming, and sales. We may also look at how it can be used by your stores to enhance the shopping experience and make life easier for floor walkers. More details next time!

But we need your help and input, so I am formally calling for papers… send your ideas to before 14 December.

£3.5bn of Christmas sales to be purchased on or influenced by smartphones, finds Deloitte

Mobile in the ascendency for Christmas shopping in 2012, with the iPad leading the charge, suggest IBM benchmark study

A third of UK consumers will start their sales shopping on Christmas day using a digital device as traditions go out the window, study finds

80% of US retailers will be affected by showrooming this Christmas,
 warns to study

eBay launches a mobile social shopping experience as it predicts the busiest online shopping day on Sunday 2 December

M-commerce take-up halted by lack of payment page optimisation

Asda multichannel strategy focuses on links between stores and online

GUEST OPINION Five steps to making mobile your best retail outlet


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