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Smartphones jingling register bells for retailers over the holidays

November 12th, 2012

SmartphonesRetailers ready for smartphone shoppers stand to profit during the holidays. In the latest of a slew of studies showing consumers plan to use their mobile devices while gift-hunting,

Deloitte’s annual holiday survey of consumer spending intentions and trends adds still more data. Half of the consumers it surveyed own smartphone and about 7 in 10 plan to use them for holiday shopping.

Mobile shoppers to spend more

Not only that: mobile shoppers are likely to spend more than others, making them particularly good targets for effective mobile marketing.

Smartphone-toting holiday shoppers may also be highly valuable to retailers this season.  These consumers are expected to shell out 72 percent more than those who do not plan to use smartphones, spending a total $1,428 on the holidays across categories including gifts, entertaining at home, socializing away from home, non-gift clothing, home/holiday furnishings and other holiday spending.

“We anticipate that retailers will increasingly interact with mobile shoppers this holiday season,” said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP, and retail & distribution sector leader.

“Deloitte’s research into smartphones’ influence on in-store sales indicates that the conversion rate for shoppers who use a retailer’s dedicated mobile application is 21 percent higher than those who do not.  This holiday season, branded applications, Wi-Fi connectivity and personalized, location-based promotions from retailers can enable shoppers to make an immediate buying decision in the store.”

This year, Deloitte anticipates that in-store sales influenced by consumers’ smartphone use will account for $36 billion, or 5.1 percent of total holiday retail store sales.

Social media also ringing shopper’s bells this year

Nearly half (45 percent) of consumers surveyed plan to shop online for holiday gifts.  Many shoppers will head to the Web to strike a deal, but also to become more informed about the purchases they are making.

More than half of the survey respondents (55 percent) indicate they often read online reviews before buying holiday merchandise online, and nearly 3 in 10 (28 percent) say they will rely on reviews more this year than last year.

Nearly half (48 percent) of shoppers surveyed will make social media part of their holiday shopping process.   Among this group, more than half will tap into social networks to look for discounts (54 percent) and research gift ideas (53 percent), while 47 percent plan to read reviews.

When shopping online, 47 percent of consumers surveyed indicate that low prices are most important when shopping a particular retailer.

Free shipping remains a big deal to online consumers, again, something multiple studies have shown, not just Deloitte’s.

Online shoppers surveyed also expect some free perks: More than 7 in 10 (71 percent) consumers surveyed say they are more likely to shop online from retailers who offer free shipping, and 56 percent say the same about retailers who offer free returns.

Technology with a smile

The  Deloitte survey found that 56 percent of shoppers it surveyed want to deal with knowledgeable sales people, and that is particularly important when they shop for technology.

Many consumers want the associates to be able to match prices (“We can match that,” are words we love to hear personally, when we know an item is sold elsewhere for less).

According to the survey, consumers are showing an interest in store technologies that make shopping easier. More than one-quarter (27 percent) of the shoppers surveyed indicate they are more likely to shop retailers that offer barcode scanners in the aisles to confirm prices and features.

Approximately 1 in 5 seeks retailers that offer to ship to their homes (22 percent) and provide self-service or mobile checkout (19 percent).

It’s a good idea for retailers to vary their media marketing mix, because more than two-thirds of the consumers Deloitte surveyed say they expect to find out about the products they purchase this holiday season through combined online, social media and mobile formats, compared to 60 percent who will rely on traditional media such as radio, television and newspapers.


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