The holidays provide retailers with a tremendous opportunity to not just drive sales in the season, but also grow their customer base to drive profitability year-round. To do so, retailers need a strong strategy that maximizes mobile usage. Let’s take a look at how retailers can integrate mobile into their holiday sales strategy and set themselves up for a season of success.

The Mobile App Necessity

Retailers need to shift the customer experience away from mobile browsers and into mobile apps. How do they do this? By offering an app experience that is user-friendly, has a clean interface, and provides value for the user.

According to a survey conducted by Apptentive, 88% of consumers use retail mobile apps. What’s more, 55% of people that use retail mobile apps use them while shopping in-store. For best results, retailers should start running user acquisition campaigns now. It’s vital for consumers to install merchant apps ahead of the holiday season – the more lead time retailers have to onboard new users, the more they can learn about them.

Collect Data

Driving engagement, retention, and sales during the holidays starts with quality data. Mobile apps enable retailers to boost their personalization efforts by leveraging collected data. For example, retailers can target customers based on distinct in-app behavior – what pages they’re looking at, what buttons they’re clicking, when they take certain actions, etc. They can use this information to create personalized incentives that engage users at specific points along the buyer journey. By gathering data early in the season, retailers can successfully shape relevant messaging to be used come November and December.

Offer Value

It’s not enough to just have an app – retailers need to create an incentive for users to engage with it. One way to do this is to use mobile app data to craft user-specific discounts and promotions available exclusively to app users. Notifying these users that there are special promotions available to them for in-store use is a strategic tactic to drive in-store traffic, sales, and over time, customer loyalty. Giving shoppers the ability to redeem in-store discounts via their mobile app makes retailers nimble and price competitive since the customer is already in the store in search of a specifically desired product.

Wish Lists

Whether shopping in-store or online, having the ability to create an online wish list is highly desirable for consumers during the holiday season. Holiday shoppers are looking for efficiency – adding an easy to use resource does just this, reducing friction and increasing the likelihood of a conversion.

Product Locator

Helping customers find products in your store via mobile app is an absolute must. During the holidays, customers outnumber sales associates by considerable ratios. Giving customers a way to find what they are shopping for without having to find an available sales associate will enhance their shopping experience by making their path to purchase more efficient.

Purchase Guides and Product Information

Consumers start researching holiday gifts as early as October. They want detailed product information and personalized customer service at their fingertips – and the more expensive the item, the more time they spend researching before making a purchase. Knowing this, the National Retail Federation recommends retailers be “research-ready” by October. One way of doing this is by having product details, pricing, and other relevant information easily available on mobile apps. Retailers can also incorporate QR codes on their products and in-store displays so shoppers can easily access product details on their mobile devices.

Giving customers easy access to product ratings and reviews while shopping in-store can even mitigate return rates. Armed with the right information, customers can make better-informed purchasing decisions and avoid a negative experience. Maintaining low return rates during the first quarter can equate to significant savings for retailers – and that alone can justify investing in a mobile app.

Retailers can rise or fall significantly based on their holiday performance — and with holiday sales expected to increase by as much as 4.5% in 2017 according to Deloitte, now is the time to start strategizing. The value that mobile apps provide retail customers cannot be ignored. They are a critical part of engagement in today’s retail world, and their popularity is only going to grow. A strong mobile-first approach to the looming holiday season can be your foundation to not only meet but exceed customer demand and set you up for success in 2018.


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