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Early-bird shopper not the biggest mobile opportunity on Black Friday

November 11, 2013

Gilt's iPad app

Early-bird and last-minute shoppers pose an obvious marketing opportunity for retailers during the holidays to drive quick sales and offers via mobile. However, with the medium becoming more mainstream for marketers, influencing the standard holiday shopper with mobile will be a bigger focus.

In the past few years, retailers have relied on mobile to capture two groups of shoppers: Black Friday deal hunters and last-minute shoppers who need to buy a gift as quickly as possible. However, mobile’s role is expanding to the standard shopper that buys anytime between Black Friday and the holidays as mobile becomes more integrated into online and bricks-and-mortar retailers’ offerings.

“The standard shopper is the one who seems most primed to me for opportunities to influence via mobile, because hot items will have already run out, and this standard shopper wants those items but wasn’t willing to get up early,” said Nikki Baird, Denver-based managing partner at RSR Research.

“She’s more of a, if I find it great, if not I’ll look for something else,” she said. “So inventory availability, price checking, ratings and reviews on mobile – these all seem like the kind of use cases that would help out that kind of shopper.”

Mobile’s holiday influence
Black Friday shoppers tend to have already done extensive research about the products that they want to buy and where the best price is.

Retailers have capitalized on these shoppers with mobile-exclusive offers that give a sneak peek at the in-store deals. Additionally, many of these efforts dole out mobile coupons that can be redeemed instantly in-store as a way to lure in-store traffic.

According to Ms. Baird, early-bird shoppers are using mobile primarily to sync up their shopping plans with friends and family members.

On the other hand, the last-minute shopper is more likely to be easily influenced to buy something, regardless of the medium.

Since these shoppers are not in research mode or comparison shopping, mobile’s role is to primarily push out last-minute sales.

The standard holiday shopper is a mix of both the early and last-minute shopper.

These consumers are actively searching for the best deal through price comparison and research, but also have more time to shop and are likely to use multiple devices and days to ultimately decide on a gift purchase.

Online shoppers
Last week, an executive from Gilt Groupe spoke about the role that mobile offers in giving the online retailer a head start on the holiday season at Mobile Marketer’s Mobile Women to Watch 2014 Summit.

“Mobile gives us the opportunity for Gilt specifically to start [holiday] sales early,” said Elizabeth Francis, chief marketing officer of, New York.

“Go to the app on Black Friday and you’ll see,” she said. “We have so many surprises and delights weaved in – some are mobile-only and some are on both [mobile and desktop],” she said.

Gilt’s iPad app

After the conference, the executive followed up on Gilt’s holiday plans by explaining that the online retailer plans to offer doorbuster sales on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving Day and will roll out sales on Thanksgiving with free shipping.

Gilt will also push off-peak sales throughout the holiday season.

Mobile’s opportunity grows
According to Sheryl Kingstone, Toronto-based research director at Yankee Group, research from Mobidia finds that Gilt’s mobile app has a 47 percent weekly and monthly use by consumers.

This is slightly more than One King Lane’s 44 percent of weekly and monthly usage, but is less than the overall online shopping category average of 54 percent.

Pushing consumers to shop early with mobile sales for Black Friday is likely a smart way for Gilt to drive consumers to shop on mobile this holiday season.

Kohl’s and H&M also rank high for mobile app usage in Mobidia’s findings, with 73 percent and 61 percent of weekly and monthly usage, respectively.

Instead of looking at consumer trends, mobile’s role this holiday season also differs based on the type of retailers.

A bricks-and-mortar retailer can benefit from mobile with driving in-store traffic through coupons. Then smart retailers will tie out-of-stock inventory to online sales.

Conversely, online retailers cater to younger, tech-savvier consumers that can plan their gifts a few weeks ahead.

“We do know that mobile is going to play a huge impact on holiday and the fact that Gilt is starting early makes sense because they have the luxury of being an online brand,” Ms. Kingstone said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York 

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