Inside This Issue - News
November 14th, 2011
NEW YORK – Consumers will shop online increasingly this holiday season, according to industry experts. But brick-and-mortar retailers can capitalize on the trend with such technologies as mobile apps and website enhancements.
Walmart has already offered an Internet preview of its most sought-after Black Friday specials. Starting in early November, customers who signed up at Walmart.com or Facebook.com/Walmart could see the discounter’s specials on electronics, toys, apparel and more.
"We know shoppers are watching every penny this season, so we’re sharing our Black Friday specials early this year so they can plan ahead and deliver a wonderful Christmas for their families," commented chief merchandising officer Duncan Mac Naughton.
Likewise Sam’s Club launched a holiday shopping site, SamsClub.com/gifts, and an enhanced mobile app that together streamline on-the-go and at-home shopping.
"We’re changing the holiday landscape with exceptional values, innovative interactivity and time-saving solutions for shoppers," said senior vice president of marketing John Boswell. "Members can now access our extraordinary assortment of holiday values from anywhere in the U.S., any hour of the day."
Such initiatives have placed Walmart on Acquity Group LLC’s list of top 10 retailers adopting mobile technologies. Also making the list were: Walgreen Co., Amazon, Armani Exchange, Barnes & Noble Inc., Buy.com, Cabela’s, Gilt Groupe, Home Depot Inc. and Newegg.
"These 10 retailers are executing mobile tactics that are positioning them ahead of the mobile commerce curve," said Tom Nawara, vice president of digital strategy and design at Acquity Group. "All of these companies have made a focused commitment to mobile, and it’s paying off. Not only have they implemented mobile-optimized sites to support a wide range of devices, but they have taken initiatives a step further with exceptional transactional functionality and well-designed apps that meet customer needs."
The audit found that 37% of 500 analyzed e-tailers now have a mobile site, up from 12% in 2010. It also found that one in four retailers have at least one mobile app.
Retailers with new or enhanced apps include Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. and Meijer Inc. Stop & Shop has expanded the availability of its SCAN IT! Mobile app, while Meijer is rolling out an app displaying store layouts and pinpointing where products are.
Introduced in June for the iPhone in three stores, SCAN IT! Mobile is now also available for many Android devices, which will double its customer reach. In addition, the pilot will expand to an additional 42 stores in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut by year-end.
The app provides shoppers with a fully integrated in-store mobile experience where they can scan, tally and bag their groceries. It also provides personalized offers to customers based on their in-store location and purchase history.
The Meijer Find-It app will boost the chain’s insights into shopping patterns, according to the technology’s supplier, Point Inside Inc.
Apps and retail websites will take on increased significance in a holiday season during which more than four-fifths of consumers plan to shop online, and in which 71% plan to trim their spending, according to SymphonyIRI Group Inc.
Consumers are going to shop for gifts "with an eye toward keeping costs down," said Susan Viamari, editor of Times & Trends at SymphonyIRI. "The Internet is going to play a big role in helping consumers stick to their budgets. In fact, 81% of consumers say they will be shopping online this year. This is a sizable jump from 2010, when 54% of consumers told us that they would do some of their holiday shopping online. Of course, the convenience and time-saving option of shopping 24 hours a day is a big plus, but many consumers are also going to comparison-shop before purchasing online or heading to an actual store."
In addition, 74% of consumers will be spending less than $800 in total on the holidays, and 73% will begin shopping before December 1, SymphonyIRI found. These findings point to a holiday season filled with consumers doing their homework to find the best deals and most value for their money.
Shopper Sciences also foresees digital media having a major impact on purchasing decisions. "This is shaping up to be a no-holds-barred, digitally empowered shopping season," remarked chief executive officer John Ross.