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EDITORIAL If you want a Peak Bounce, you need to think beyond Black Friday

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As we reported earlier this week, retail is now pinning its hopes on a seasonal peak like no other saving it from having what has been its most disastrous year to date. But to get there they need to start now – and they need to think mobile.

Previous Peak seasons have focussed on Black Friday and Cyber Monday – and, increasingly the week before, during and after, to be fair – but a new study into how people shop suggests that retailers need to start now, as many shoppers are already starting their Christmas shopping and are looking to be inspired.

The report, from Periscope by Mckinsey, finds that for many shoppers they are, right now, as I type, looking online for ideas and inspiration for what to buy their friends and family this Christmas. They aren’t, on the whole, waiting for Black Friday, but are more focussed on looking for the right gift – at the right price.

And this is where mobile comes in. The search for inspiration is spread, fairly evenly, across online, mobile and in stores – and reaching these people while they are looking on each is the key theme to marketing this peak season. Getting in front of the right people at the right time with the inspiration – both in terms of gifts and price – is crucial. The best bet to make this happen is with mobile.

In fact, the study shows that 51% of consumers use them to compare prices with competitors, 33% to search for in-store discounts or coupons, and 30% to look up further product information.

And don’t think this is a young person’s game either – everyone under 65 is doing this.

So what does that mean for retailers? Well it means that whatever you have planned for Peak, pull the trigger now. And point the marketing gun carefully at the right people’s mobile phones.

It is about getting the right information or offer to the right people at the right time – and that is the hard bit. One way around this is the increasing use of apps, since push messages that appear on the home screen of a phone can be much more engaging. Yet, getting shoppers app-ing is still not easy.

Changes may soon be afoot as Google and Apple start to make apps show up in search results for retail products – to date, Google has been skewed towards gaming apps, as that was where the money was, not it is looking to refine search for retail apps – but that isn’t going to bite until sometime in 2020.

Yet happen it must. As must the drive to get shoppers using apps through marketing, loyalty and any way you can think. Marketing needs to be about your brand and your app – and both have to offer the right and tangible benefits to shoppers when they want it.

Just take a look at what is happening right now in China around Single’s Day – 11.11 – which, as the 11th 11.11 yet, is set to be the biggest and most international. Alibaba and Tmall – who stand behind the Single’s Day phenomenon – have started earlier than ever on marketing the special day and they are pulling out all the stops to make it mobile and engaging.

Understand how this works and applying it here in the UK is vital. Only then can peak stand a chance of bringing in the revenues that we so desperately need right now. Maybe 2019 may not yet be the worst year on record. Take aim….

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