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Flash sales are retailers’ favorite mobile promotion: report

December 4, 2012

Flash sales are a top priority for 30 percent of retail chief marketing officers this holiday season, according to a new survey from BDO USA LLP.

The BDO Retail Compass Survey of CMOs report found that 50 percent of the CMO’s surveyed have included mobile in their marketing strategy this year, up 39 percent from last year. While flash sales were named as a top focus by the most CMOs, retailers are also embracing text messaging and mobile coupons.

“Flash sales and daily deal promotions are extremely effective in mobile because they are impulse shopping decisions that are made on the fly with the click of a button – which is the essence of mobile shopping,” said Stephen Wyss, partner in the retail and consumer products practice at BDO USA, LLP, Chicago.

“These promotions capitalize on the immediate sense of self-gratification felt by the consumer when they have just gotten a fantastic deal that was only available for a limited time,” he said. “Given the successes seen this year and during the holiday season, I expect that we’ll see more retailers embrace the mobile flash sale model in the next year.”

The Facebook factor
CMOs are pursuing a variety of mobile tactics to reach shoppers, with 23 percent most focused on text messages and 20 percent on mobile coupons.

Retailers are also rolling out new forms of mobile engagement such as in-store GPS and product reviews in their apps. The development of mobile apps is the primary tactic for 14 percent of CMOs while another 14 percent are focused on QR codes.

The BDO report also highlights the significant growth in social media for retailers, with 86 percent of retail CMOs including social media in their marketing strategies compared with just 4 percent in 2007. Additionally, social media accounts for 10 percent of retailers’ holiday advertising and marketing budgets this year.

Among the retailers who are incorporating social media into their marketing efforts, 99 percent say they are focusing on Facebook while one in five retailers is marketing on Pinterest this holiday season. Twitter is a popular site for 51 percent of retailers.

Playing catch up
While holiday marketing and advertising budgets are flat this year, the report reveals a 35 percent increase in the number of CMOs who will spend the largest portion of their marketing budgets online, including social media.

Other key findings include that the amount of customer data retailers now have access to through in-store purchases, email, social media, ecommerce and mobile has grown to the point that 93 percent of CMOs say they find it a challenge to integrate and manage the data while 40 percent say it is “very challenging.”

However, CMOs recognize the opportunity that big data offers to provide better service and generate revenue. As a result, 68 percent say they will increase their use of customer data for targeting efforts next year.

With only half of CMOs including mobile in their marketing strategy, this shows that many retailers are still playing catch up with the platform’s significant growth.

 “While we saw a lot of growth in the number of retailers saying they’ve incorporated mobile, we were surprised the increase wasn’t even bigger,” Mr. Wyss said. “The industry hasn’t been able to keep pace with the explosion of mobile usage and transactions.

“But, in the past year, we’ve seen a number of technology improvements – including larger, more user-friendly smartphones – and big players in the industry have developed more engaging shopping apps and mobile sites,” he said.

“Better technology is leading to more mobile traffic, and we expect to see even more retailers capitalizing on the opportunity in the next year.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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