How Retailers can Leverage Mobile Apps During The Holidays
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The world’s top retailers are beginning to realize the critical role mobile plays in the omnichannel shopping experience. Brick-and-mortar locations no longer represent the majority of holiday traffic. Retail mobile apps and the role they play in marketing, sales, and operations are a vital and dynamic part of this shift.


Statistics from the 2017 Black Friday weekend expose a few compelling trends happening in omnichannel shopping right now. When retailers provide a unified experience across all touchpoints (mobile, desktop, brick-and-mortar locations) purchase conversions rise.


Approximately 58 million people chose to only shop online this holiday season, surpassing brick-and-mortar locations by 7 million. Consumers spent roughly $82 more when they shopped online and in-store compared to those who only shopped online. Similarly, those who shopped across multiple touchpoints spent approximately $49 more than those who only shopped at physical locations.



Mobile is arguably the most important digital touchpoint for retailers to acquire and retain loyal customers. Diving deeper, it’s evident that mobile is becoming increasingly important during the holiday season, particularly:



While aggregate data proves that mobile is an invaluable tool for boosting holiday performance, retailers looking to capitalize need to approach it strategically.

Embrace Mobile Shopping Patterns

Today’s hyper-connected consumer will reflexively use their device to inform their purchase decisions. In fact, 82% of smartphone users will turn to their phone to justify a purchasing commitment. Whether it’s a holiday purchase or an expensive investment, smartphone users are using their devices as research tools more than ever. These research moments are critical opportunities for retailers to connect with their buyers. While some brands find this pattern threatening, retail mobile apps can be optimized to alleviate these concerns.



If consumers are searching particular products on mobile before they go to a physical location, your brand needs to become a resource. A retail app can localize ratings, reviews, availability, and any other relevant information that may affect a customer’s path to purchase. Similarly, targeted mobile advertising can help drive in-store traffic.


One of our previous posts demonstrated how mobile apps are driving omnichannel retailing. These same principles apply – and are perhaps even more critical – during the holiday season. When shopping activity peaks, customers expect a seamless experience across channels, from desktop to in-app to in-store.


The following tactics can help retailers leverage mobile apps during the holidays.

Be Omnipresent

Ensuring that your retail mobile app integrates seamlessly with, and enhances, the shopping experience across your other channels can help optimize the path to purchase and drive sales during the Holiday stretch.



Retail marketing strategies need to focus on enabling conversions on every channel. One way to accomplish this is to provide a single, coherent shopping cart across all digital purchase paths. If a customer selects a number of items for purchase on a mobile channel, they need to be able to complete that purchase on their desktop, and even in-store. Additionally, shoppers must be able to make digital purchases and forgo shipping by picking up items at a brick-and-mortar location.

Integrate Beacons

Beacons have been gaining popularity in retail due to their ability to communicate with user smartphones and provide granular, valuable insights into in-store user behavior, among their many other applications.


Using beacons can help retailers blend the digital and physical shopping experience during the Holiday season, enabling in-store push notifications that are tailored to users based on specific interests and behaviors, location within the store, purchase history, and more.


Additionally, beacons are a goldmine for analytics, allowing retailers to track things such as footfall, in-store activity patterns, recency and frequency of visits, and many other insights that can help inform decisions for future Holiday seasons.

Leverage Push Notifications

If you’re offering incredible holiday deals, your users want to know about it. One of the best tactics for smartphone communication is push notifications. According to Leanplum, push notifications sent on Black Friday are opened 2.6 times more often.  



Conveying the value of push notifications is generally a difficult task for marketers, but opt-in conversions increase over the holidays. Over the Black Friday weekend, 50% of shoppers say they will enable push notifications to access information about exclusive discounts.


Push notifications can also reduce shopping cart abandonment rates. Push notifications are a communication channel that reach users outside of the app itself. It’s important to monitor in-app analytics to determine which users add items to their cart but never complete the purchase. When this occurs send a targeted push notification to help close the sale. Conversion rates can improve by 14% with this tactic if messaging is employed strategically.

Use Data to Align Shopping Experiences

Data from retail mobile apps can be used to improve customer experiences, boost engagement, and drive sales. For retailers, mobile apps provide very robust sets of data, unparalleled on any other medium.


Of the many different metrics retailers can track via mobile apps, things like peak shopping times, demographics, and store traffic flow can help inform marketing decisions, improve push messaging, increase conversions, and even help with operational aspects such as staff allocation.


As retailers look for innovative ways to maximize sales during the Holiday season, retail mobile apps should be on the radar – if not for this year, then for next. With mobile becoming a highly important touchpoint in the customer journey, retailers looking to compete with the market leaders will need to ensure they adopt a mobile-first mindset.