Beyoncé’s appearance at a Macys may have brought in big crowds, but not even a PR stunt from Queen B can save stores from their biggest competitor yet: smartphones. This holiday shopping season mobile devices are poised to have their biggest impact ever.
It’s not news that people are spending and doing a lot more on the phone than ever before. What isnoteworthy is how much consumers will be using their phones come holiday shopping time to compare prices (referred to as “showrooming”) and ultimately make purchases. More than half of people who own a mobile device (55.3 percent to be exact) plan on using it to shop this year according to Prosper Mobile Insights.
Historically brick and mortar stores have bled sales to online retailers like Amazon, Ebay, and Gilt (to name a few) as consumers compare prices in store and find better deals instantly. From celebrity appearances, to in-store loyalty rewards, and even lobbying Congress to collect sales tax on online shopping—retailers have tried everything to keep consumers in their stores—and purchase in their stores. This year however, all that is about to change due to mobile. Leading the way are stores like Target, Saks, Macys and Best Buy.
The aforementioned stores finally wised up to the power of mobile and are fighting fire with fire. The biggest weapon against online rivals: price matching. Best Buy announced they will match online retailor prices as well as offer free shipping for out-of-stock items this holiday season. Taking a cue from Best Buy, Target will also match certain online retailers from November 1 to December 16 as well as roll out QR codes on toys so shoppers can buy them online and have them shipped. Saks takes it a step further by adding free Wi-Fi to its stores to promote their mobile commerce website.
While most stores have been late to the m-commerce game, this holiday season is sure to be the push they need to enter the space. As stores look for more creative ways to crush online retailors through apps, discounts, and a more robust in-store experience, consumers are the winners in the end. We’re only a few weeks off from Black Friday, but stores are wasting no time to engage consumers on their phones.
Melissa Pitts is a marketing assistant at gyro.
Follow her at @mpittsm