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Walmart attests to mobile’s in-store power for holiday shoppers

December 6, 2013

Walmart's mobile app

One of the key mobile insights that has emerged for Walmart in the wake of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is the significant role mobile is playing for in-store shoppers, who used their smartphones to browse special offers and shop online from the retailer.

Mobile traffic to the retailer’s Web site peaked at 7 p.m. EST on Thanksgiving Day, an hour after bricks-and-mortar stores opened with the first set of Black Friday savings and an hour before the second set of savings, which included a lot of televisions, became available. The top product pages browsed by customers on mobile devices included the Black Friday circular and a Black Friday special.

“We know that more than 50 percent of Walmart store customers have smartphones, and they’re using them to shop, so mobile traffic to our site has been steadily increasing, and I think it’s convenient and allows customers to engage with the brand and shop on the go, whenever and wherever they are,” said Ravi Jariwala, director of public relations at Walmart, Bentonville, AR.

“I think a good example of this is on Thanksgiving Day this year, our mobile traffic peaked at 7 p.m. Eastern,” he said.

“On Thanksgiving Day, we know the top product pages that were browsed by our customers on mobile devices included the Black Friday circular and a Black Friday special. I think that really underscores how customers are using their mobile phones not just to prepare for their Black Friday in-store shopping, but also to really access the online assortment for accessories and just to find more choices and more opportunities to save.”

Acquisition tool
Overall, the traffic from mobile devices to between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday was more than 50 percent of total traffic, up from approximately 40 percent last year.

Mobile is also a key driver of new customers to so far this year, with the number of customers making their first purchase ever on the site and doing so from a mobile device tripling over last year.

Another key mobile learning from Thanksgiving this year is the importance of mobile applications to the shopping experience.

Walmart reports that traffic specifically from its iPhone, iPad and Android mobile apps more than doubled during the same five-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend period this year compared to last year.

Apps play an important role for Walmart, with an executive at the retailer reporting earlier this year that consumers who download its app spend 40 percent more and shop in-store twice as much as the average shopper (see story).

Cross-selling opportunities
With mobile sales and traffic both up significantly for retailers so far this holiday season, it is becoming increasingly clear that retailers who are taking advantage of how mobile can support in-store shopping are among the biggest winners.

For example, Walmart’s app has an in-store mode enabling users to learn the price on any item using a built-in scanner, see a store’s local circular, rollbacks and newest items as well as find out about store events.

A Walmart screen shot

For Walmart, the data is stacking up to suggest that in-store shoppers are using mobile to shop online to find items related to their in-store purchases.


For example, on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, Walmart sold 2 million HD TVs while one of the top-selling items via mobile was a tilting wall mount for flat screen TVs.

“I can imagine a scenario where customers were waiting in line to check out, they had this great, new HD TV in their shopping cart, which they were so excited to get at Walmart stores,” Mr. Jariwala said.

“As they’re waiting to go through checkout in the stores, they’re pulling up their mobile devices and either through the apps or just through the mobile Web are searching our assortment of flat panel accessories like cables and in this instance, wall mounts, for instance.

“They were able to purchase them right there in the store, maybe before they had even left the store or maybe before they had gotten to check out. We don’t have any hard data to back that up, but if you look at how many TVs Walmart stores sold, and you look at what was one of our top-selling items on mobile, one of the top-selling items on mobile is clearly an accessory for one of the top-selling products in Walmart stores.”

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

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