Mobile phones are the consumer’s best friend, both when it comes to browsing and when it comes to buying online or even in stores, according to IBM Coremetrics’ fourth annual Online Retail Holiday Readiness Report.
"Mobile is the biggest surprise," says John Squire, chief strategy officer for IBM Coremetrics. "Over the last decade, lots of people have said, 'this is the year of mobile,' but frankly, the much-vaunted year of mobile never materialized. That all changed over the last year or so when mobile exploded onto the scene.
"Think about the rise of QR codes even just in the past few months," he adds. "These aren't little fads that retailers can or should discount because the numbers clearly show that the first movers are bringing in profits that far outstrip anything that their closest competitors can claim."
The study also found that social media is being used as a shopping tool. "Social and mobile go beyond just shopping trends. They're reflections of how we live our lives," Squire explains. "People everywhere are using their mobile devices to research products, to find stores in their area that have products in stock, to find the best prices. They're using their social networks to ask their friends' opinions about products and services, and they're able to shop, browse, compare, and discuss products whenever and wherever they want."
Consumers are more willing to spend big bucks, as well. "We’ve all settled into a new normal and things have generally stabilized a bit for many people," Squire says. "This past holiday season, we saw a surprising jump in luxury goods spending; the best retailers spotted that trend very early in the fall and made a point of promoting their premium products in ways that enticed consumers to open their wallets early in the holiday season."
According to Squire, many retailers are rightly "carefully transforming" their marketing programs into a customer service built on what consumers are telling them. “We all know we can get the same thing from another site that's just a click or two away," he says. "This means that retailers have to pull out all of the stops to create a tailored, customized approach to reaching your audience. Retailers should also consider targeted display ads to keep their brands, products, and offers top of mind among consumers who visited a site but didn't buy anything."