59% of consumers plan to buy most of their holiday gifts online instead of in brick and mortar stores, says a new study from Accenture. Furthermore, many of those consumers will be using mobile devices like smartphones and tablets to get that shopping done.
54% said they’ll use smartphones to shop, and 35% said they’ll use tablets like Apple’s iPad. That means retail businesses need to have online strategies to succeed this season, and even existing online businesses will want to be prepared for customers on mobile devices.
That could entail developing and launching mobile apps for iPhone and Android that offer special deals and shopping opportunities. Apps for the iPad are cool too, but they’re generally a luxury for businesses since owners of iPads and other tablets can comfortably surf the same websites desktop users do — unless Adobe’s Flash technology is a critical part of a website’s functionality.
Here’s one example of how mobile apps could help: 32% of consumers surveyed are open to receiving push notifications on their mobile devices about new deals. This works for online businesses, but it works for brick-and-mortar retail as well. Some mobile apps notify consumers of deals at stores that are physically near them using the GPS features of the phones and tablets.
Businesses without any digital presence at all have a lot of catching up to do in a short period of time. If you’re among them, make sure you at least start offering social media promotions like Facebook Places Deals, Foursquare Specials, and Yelp Events, to name a few. That’s the lowest-cost and least-prep starting point, with launching your own e-commerce website and mobile apps as secondary objectives that require more capital and time.
Samuel Axon: Samuel is the Editorial Director supervising Sprout Social's editorial and web content projects. He has years of experience in blogging and social media, having previously worked as an editor at social media and technology news sites Mashable and Engadget. He also helped build the white label web content management system Crowd Fusion from the ground up.