With one week to go until Black Friday, experts predict mobile sales will surpass the record-breaking highs it reached last year.
According to a report by the National Retail Foundation, holiday sales are set to increase 4 percent this year over last year, and mobile is expected to serve as a significant catalyst. Mobile sales drove more than $1.2 billion in sales on Black Friday last year, the highest amount brought in from smartphones in a single day in retail history. Moving into the 2017 holiday season, retailers have continued to prioritize mobile in an attempt to meet a critical mass of consumers on a device where they already spend upward of four hours per day.
For fashion brands, cracking mobile has been challenging as investment in apps has failed to pay off. Many have poured significant resources into standalone apps that received little traction in the end, before opting to delete them altogether. Others, including Gucci, are finding innovative ways to engage consumers on their apps through updated features, like curated holiday gift guides and virtual reality videos.
But regardless of the interface, brands are finding investing in mobile is proving to be increasingly important to bolstering the business.
“It will be a long time before we stop seeing the growth in [mobile] programs, as long as retailers and brands keep up with the consumer needs,” said Nicole Jennings, svp of paid media at PMX Agency. “Brands are making their mobile sites faster, making it easier to convert on mobile, adding personalization to the shopping experience where they can and leveraging offline perks like buy-online-pick-up-in-store to drive loyalty.”
According to TrustLook Mobile Security, 66 percent of consumers plan to shop on a mobile device this holiday season, and the number of visits to brand sites is expected to be higher on mobile than desktop during the months of November and December.
Further, TrustLook found that among product categories, clothing is expected to be the second most popular purchased on mobile, closely following home electronics.
While a majority of all shoppers (55 percent) still prefer to visit a physical store, 54 percent of millennials and Gen Z consumers prefer to shop online, and 38 percent prefer to use a smartphone to shop, according to a report by marketing firm Fluent. The study also found that 82 percent of respondents age 18 to 34 made a purchase on their smartphone in the last six months.
Roger Woods, director of mobile product and strategy at Adobe Experience Cloud, said mobile, in particular, continues to serve as an important method for discovery, largely through sponsored posts and advertisements on social media.
“If the mobile experience is delivered to make sure discovery in the form of product research, physical store information and customer service inquiries are done well, mobile will be a key entry point for consumers to seal the deal on another channel, be it desktop or in person,” he said. “In some instances, these can be stitched together, where a cart started on mobile can be finished on a laptop at work.”
Among smartphone shoppers, purchases made on mobile websites continue to outpace those made on apps. This mirrors ongoing trends among brands like Pandora and Coach, which have ditched their apps in order to simplify their mobile footprint and optimize sites for smartphones.
Now retailers are increasingly using Progressive Web App technology as a means of enhancing their mobile sites by making them quicker and more efficient, and consumers are following. “It’s a better way to enable a website to work more like a native installed app,” Aaron Gustafson, who works on web standards at Microsoft, told Digiday last year.
While conversion rates are still low, respective to desktop and tablets, increased cybersecurity measures have helped enhance the likelihood for consumers to shop on mobile.
“For a long time, retailers have worried about low conversion rates on mobile. Brands felt that if people weren’t shopping on smartphones and tablets at levels that rivaled desktop, then things were not moving in the right direction,” Woods said. “However, this sort of misses the point. It’s true that aspects of mobile shopping can be improved, such as the payment process and site layout, but the real takeaway is that retailers need to better optimize for the users intent on a mobile device.”
Chart courtesy of Invespcro