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Mobile’s role as in-store influence on sales will be felt during the holidays: report

September 28, 2012

Mobile will influence holiday in-store sales

Mobile will influence 5.1 percent of in-store sales – or $36 billion – during the upcoming holiday season as shoppers use their smartphones to research products, compare prices and engage with various applications, according to a new report from Deloitte.

The report also says that retailers who welcome the smartphone shopper with mobile applications and Wi-Fi access will be better positioned to accelerate their in-store sales this holiday season. This is because Deloitte’s research also shows that shoppers who are armed with smartphones are 14 percent more likely to make a purchase in the store than those who do not use a smartphone as part of their in-store experience.

“The big news is that it is not just about selling stuff on mobile phones – that’s not the big story at all,” said Alison Paul, vice chairman and retail & distribution sector leader at Deloitte LLP, New York.

“The big story is the influence of people walking around with a phone and doing stuff that are the other steps involved in making a purchase,” she said.

“The consumer that is in a store shopping with a smartphone is not only more educated but is also more likely to buy in store.”

In-store influence
Overall, Deloitte expects a modest increase of 3.5 percent to four percent in holiday sales this year compared to last year’s 5.9 percent gain in holiday sales. During the holiday period of November through January, Deloitte expects sales to reach between $920 and $925 billion.

Deloitte expects ongoing economic concern as gas prices continue to climb and softness in the job and housing markets remain to dampen sales somewhat this year.

However, non-store sales are expected to experience double-digit increase of between 15 percent and 17 percent. Nearly three-quarters of non-store sales result from the online channel with additional sales coming from catalogs and interactive TV.

According to Deloitte, non-store sales are increasingly influencing consumers’ experience with the retail store.

As a result, this holiday season, retailers’ more lucrative customers may be the ones they engage across physical and virtual storefronts.

“The big difference from last year is that most stores are wired for Wi-Fi now,” Ms. Paul said.

“There are also many more apps and more mainstream usage of mobile to have a two-way dialog with consumers,” she said.

“It may not be everywhere but it is a lot more mainstream than it was a year ago.”

The mobile, social factor
Consumers may also reduce shopping trips in response to higher gas prices and will continue to keep a sharp eye on promotions and pricing, making retailers’ digital connections with consumers more important than ever.

Deloitte expects consumers to see more price transparency across mobile, online and store channels this year as retailers increasingly focus on omnichannel pricing strategies.

“Shoppers, particularly young shoppers, are using smartphones to take pictures of what they are thinking about buying and sending them to friends and posting them on Facebook,” Ms. Paul said.“This is real clue on how to tie together retail merchandising, social media and mobile all in one.”

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

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