How retailers can leverage mobility on Cyber Monday
Not so long ago, holiday shoppers who wanted the best discounts of the season had to get up early on Black Friday, line up in the cold and push their way through crowds. Thankfully, those who don’t like shopping as a competitive sport — along with those who have funds left after Black Friday — now have another option: wait until Monday and shop from home or work — or anywhere using their smartphones.
Every year, more people cash in on Cyber Monday deals. Sales reached $3.45 billion on Cyber Monday 2016 — up 12.1 percent from 2015, according to Fortune.
That’s great news for retailers — at least the ones whose websites can handle all the increased holiday traffic. Ad Age reports that in the past, even websites from major retailers have crashed or experienced technical difficulties, such as automatically adding and deleting items from shopping carts, freezing up at checkout or presenting expired bargains, all of which amount to lost revenue and potentially lost customers.
How can retailers keep expanding the new tradition of Cyber Monday sales while eliminating the glitches?
One solution is to offload as much traffic as possible to mobile apps.
Forget Cyber Monday — think Mobile Monday
The online shopping holiday originated through retail websites, but every year more and more people use mobile devices and apps to make purchases.
Last year, mobile sales on Cyber Monday topped $1.07 billion — up 34 percent from 2015 — and accounted for 31 percent of the day’s sales. Throughout the entire holiday shopping season, mobile transactions accounted for 31 percent of all retail sales — up from 28 percent in 2015 and 19 percent in 2014.
Of course, not all those purchases were made through mobile apps. Many came through mobile versions of retailers’ websites, which only added to the visitor surge. Mobile apps are an entirely different ecosystem. Depending on the quality of the network that hosts a mobile app, it could potentially handle more traffic than a traditional website. If nothing else, a strong mobile app strategy can help spread the traffic and give retail websites some much-needed backup.
Five mobile app marketing strategies for the holidays
How can retailers drive customers away from their websites and onto their mobile apps? Here are five winning strategies:
1. Use cross-channel data to personalize messaging.
Personalization is a little trickier during the holiday season, when people are shopping for others more than themselves, but there’s still plenty of relevant behavioral data to tap into. What items did the customer buy last year around this time? Which items have they viewed in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving? What items are on their wish list? Have they recently abandoned any items in their shopping cart?
Using this information, retailers can send targeted in-app messages or push notifications that feature the products users have already expressed some interest in — and better yet, tell them whether those items are part of the day’s big sale.
2. Offer mobile-only discounts and products.
In an effort to drive foot traffic, many retailers offer Black Friday doorbuster sales and exclusive products that shoppers can only get in the brick-and-mortar store. Why not apply the same principle to mobile apps? By offering special products and slightly deeper discounts via mobile, retailers can entice mobile users to complete purchases in the app. And because those shoppers are spending a little less, there’s a good chance they will buy a little more.
3. Deliver countdown push notifications.
Time-sensitive push notifications are a great way to entice customers to take action, especially on a day when they’re already in the holiday shopping spirit. And because retailers can personalize and stagger these notifications — rather than sending them to everyone at once — they can help prevent traffic surges.
4. Remove barriers to make the shopping experience more convenient.
It’s always important for retailers to provide a seamless shopping experience, but this is especially true on Cyber Monday. Most people are already back at work and shopping on their lunch break (or when the boss isn’t looking), so they don’t have time for complicated sign-in or checkout processes. With options like social sign-in and one-click mobile payment solutions, however, they can get in, get out — and then get back to work.
5. Help them find what they’re looking for.
Well-designed mobile apps offer some distinct shopping advantages. Because they’re created for smaller screens, the interface is usually simpler and more streamlined — or, in other words, not overwhelming on what can be an overwhelming shopping day. However, that all falls apart if a mobile app is difficult to navigate, so robust in-app search functionality is crucial. In-app messaging is another way to ensure customers find everything they need. Granted, retailers might not have enough customer service reps to handle all the messages in a timely manner on such a popular day for e-commerce, but that’s what chatbots are for.
These mobile strategies can help retailers drive (and manage) traffic during major holiday shopping days, but they’re not just for the holiday season — delivering a delightful and seamless customer experience is a smart business practice year-round.