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Walmart adapts to Thanksgiving’s new mobile-driven reality

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November 13, 2015

Walmart's Black Friday circular is available now in its app

Walmart’s Black Friday circular is available now in its app

Gift-buyers hunting for the best deals Thanksgiving weekend are increasingly relying on their mobile phones to provide assistance in a number of ways, a fact Walmart has clearly caught onto.

With users of a retailer’s application typically among its most valuable customers, Walmart shrewdly introduced the deals available on Black Friday early to these users. The retailer will also making deals available on Walmart.com on Thanksgiving morning before stores open, reflecting how consumers are getting a head start on holiday shopping by using their phones to shop without having to remove themselves from the holiday’s goings on.

“This is a great move by Walmart,” said Lauren Hand, marketing director at GPShopper. “Offering previews and sneak peeks of the deals that will be available on Black Friday delivers both convenience and exclusivity to a retailer’s most loyal customer base – its app users.

“Rewarding your dedicated fan base with early access to deals or info via your app makes a customer feel special and keeps them dedicated to your brand, as well as spending more,” she said.

“We also recommend providing app users with even more convenience by sharing deal previews for products saved to a customer’s Shopping List or Wish List with user-targeted push notifications.”

Feasting on deals
Walmart released its Black Friday circular showcasing some of the biggest deals of the season early to users of its app yesterday.

With mobile traffic to retailers’ sites expected to skyrocket during the holiday weekend much as it has in recent years, the retailer is also promising a record number of Black Friday deals will be available on Walmart.com.

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This year will mark the first-time ever that Walmart’s Black Friday deals will be available on Walmart.com beginning at 12:01 am PT on Thanksgiving morning, giving online shoppers early access to the deals before the retailer’s stores open at 6 pm.

Walmart will be relying on mobile technology to support shoppers in other ways as well.

The interactive circular on the mobile app and Walmart.com will deliver ratings and reviews as well as tutorials on the retailer’s 1-Hour Guarantee, which enables customers in designated areas of the store to purchase specific items from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 26 that they will either take home that night or receive it at a store before Christmas.

Store maps will highlight the locations of popular products and larger gifts. The maps will viewable on Walmart.com and on the mobile app starting Nov. 17.

Following Black Friday, Walmart will kick off a week of savings on Walmart.com.

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Polishing up video
Black Friday is so named because, traditionally, this was the day that retailers’ financial standing moved out of negative territory – indicated by red ink – and starting show a profit, indicated by black ink.

However, Black Friday has been losing some of its significance over the past few years, in part because of how shoppers have embraced mobile. Now that shoppers can easily shop from their phones without having to cut into their time with family and friends, fewer are interested in driving to the mall and navigating the crowds.

As a result, sales volumes are starting to see less-dramatic spikes on Black Friday and are more evenly distributed throughout the holiday weekend and into Cyber Monday.

Walmart’s Black Friday is one example of how retailers are adapting to mobile’s growing role in Thanksgiving weekend shopping.

According to data from eBay, last year’s mobile shopping peaked at 9 pm ET on Thanksgiving Day.

With this in mind, eBay is timing a new crowdsourced deals strategy to coincide with when mobile shopping is expected to be heaviest. The digital Wish Bigger Wishbone will feature competing deals between 4 pm and 10 pm ET on Thanksgiving, with the most popular deals being unlocked by eBay.

A number of retailers are also doubling down on video this holiday season, recognizing that this is an important way to connect with mobile shoppers.

“Probably the biggest recommendation we have for our clients is to polish up their in-app videos in time for Thanksgiving,” Ms. Hand said. “Americans now spend 1 hour and 16 minutes each day watching videos on mobile devices – that’s more than double the average mobile viewing time just one year ago.

“We see tremendous spikes in video engagement on Thanksgiving, especially in the late afternoon and early evening hours,” she said.

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

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