Insights from taking my holiday shopping mobile

Posted by on Dec 21, 2011
Insights from taking my holiday shopping mobile

I don’t know about you, but I dread the holiday shopping season. I’m overwhelmed by all of the choices in the stores, the crowds and the parking hassles. My typical approach is to order everything online at the very last minute.  This of course means that I’ve often wrapped the ad for the gift that’s on the way, but not under the tree.

This year, I decided to try something new. My goal was to take advantage of cyber shopping deals and promotions in November – yes, Black Friday and Cyber Monday! For a little twist, I used my iPad and iPhone for all of my orders.  NO excuses for post-holiday deliveries – I could shop anywhere at any time.

I wasn’t the only one thinking mobile shopping was the way to go this holiday season. A new study from Wakefield Research (which was commissioned by Motricity) confirms that this holiday season may be the biggest year for online holiday shopping yet.  “70% of Americans who shop with their smartphones or tablets report purchasing more items directly from their device in 2011, than they did in 2010. On-the-go purchasing is increasing in popularity,” the report said.

Mobile shopping gave me the ability to dive into Black Friday shopping with gusto. Here are a few of my insights:

Power of Direct Mail
I relied on direct mail and catalogues to help me research offers.  I liked having a tangible offer code at my fingertips as I was making my choices.  And, I liked the visual references – particularly when I was shopping on my phone.

eBlasts WORK!
I received so many emails – and it made my shopping easier.  Linking to the offer or online store was a breeze and mimicked my PC point-and-click. I have to admit that the volume of e-mails could have been overwhelming – particularly now that I seem to be receiving a ‘Groupon’ from just about everyone, in addition to the expected emails from Macy’s, Bloomies and Best Buy. I just deleted the retailers and offers I knew didn’t offer items on my list.

Who Needs an App?
According to comScore, smartphone users in general favor browsers over apps (48% vs. 26%). This was true for me. I initiated my mobile shopping trips from links or via search rather than through an app, which makes me wonder about the value of apps for shopping – at least during the holiday rush.

Relationships Matter
I found that I shopped first at websites where I have accounts, which meant I didn’t need to reenter my credit card details. So, here’s to you, Amazon, Apple and Zappos.

The Power of the Link
I asked my family to give me Christmas lists that included links to the websites where I could find exactly what they wanted. Talk about a breeze – I was ordering gifts during commercial breaks of Elf and Christmas Vacation. It was actually FUN.

Of course there were a few negatives. I haven’t set up my iPad for printing, which meant I needed to print confirmation emails from my PC. I also had some frustrating mobile experiences. Sites with less user-friendly interfaces, like Bath and Body Works, ultimately lost my business this year.

All in all, I’m happy to report that I contributed to ShopperTrak’s reported 6.6% increase in Black Friday sales. I did it all via mobile device. And, best of all, my gifts are wrapped and under the tree – all in time for Christmas!