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  • November 25, 2014
  • 3 minute read

For Last Minute Shoppers, Brick-And-Mortar Retail Turns To Mobile


Some people are Black Friday shoppers. Some are Cyber Monday fanatics. And others prefer to wait until December 20th to fill up those stockings. If you’re a chronic last minute shopper, we’d like to tell you that’s ok—because this holiday season brick-and-mortar marketers are finding new ways to engage customers at that time-worn holiday hub: the local store.

Seeing that in 2013, U.S. stores received approximately half the holiday foot traffic they had just three years earlier1, it’s no secret that brick-and-mortar retailers have been at odds with the explosion of online—and now mobile—shopping.

But this is not a winner takes all sort of game and the (Yule) tides seem to be changing this holiday season as local marketers are finally embracing the benefits of these new channels. This idea of “omnichannel” retailing, where every channel—online and offline—work together to deliver a unified and consistent experience for the customer, is currently a big trend in retail, and rightfully so.

According to eMarketer’s holiday forecast, mobile retail sales are expected to increase 37.3% this season, more than twice the already aggressive growth projected for online sales2. Embracing this constantly connected consumer is what we at Pandora call having a Mobility Mindset—putting the consumer first and the device second to let people interact with content on their own terms.

Omnichannel retailing is going to be especially important when it comes to last minute gift buying. As wonderful as online shopping is, many of us may still bitterly remember last year’s fulfillment problems—where at least eight top retailers were not able to get all their orders under the tree in time for Christmas Day3. The sheer volume was simply too much to handle (and a poorly timed snowstorm near big shipment centers didn’t help!).

That is why we are seeing some major omnichannel trends gaining momentum this holiday season:

  • In-Store Pick-Up: Two-day shipping and overnight delivery has made it too easy to wait until the last minute to purchase gifts online. To avoid last year’s shipping nightmare, many retailers are jingling the tune of in-store pick-up to reduce the number of holiday shipments. Closing the gap between online and offline retailing, this solution leverages today’s shopping trends to drive customers to the store. Half of consumers actually expect to be able to purchase online and pick-up locally4 and about 40% who do tend to buy something extra while in-store2.
  • Inventory Visibility: Trust us, we know that consumers are connected, tuned in and engaged during this busy time of the year (Nearly one in three people in the U.S. use Pandora during the holidays5). When people shop, it’s no different. So retailers are now trying to take advantage of consumer connectivity to communicate product information, like in-store inventory, via their digital and mobile channels. This creates a win-win for retailers by encouraging online engagement as well as in-store purchasing.
  • Beacon Technology: Maybe one of the most buzzed about topics in retail right now, beacons offer marketers more options to engage customers on their smartphones. We already know that 34% of consumers use their mobile device to research products while in-store4. With beacons, retailers can take advantage of this trend to provide special offers as soon as they walk through the door. This not only rewards people for visiting a brick-and-mortar location, but also for using their smartphone. Although most marketers have only tested this technology in small scale, many big retailers are expected to expand beacon implementation this holiday season, according to eMarketer.
Shifting consumer habits will always present challenges for local marketers and retailers, but by adopting a Mobility Mindset—and omnichannel retail strategy—marketers can make these trends work in their favor. As marketers we need to recognize that this joyful time of year makes people especially hungry for holiday content that is available wherever they need it.

1 Source: ShopperTrak, 2013 Holiday Wrap, January 2014

2 Source: eMarketer, “Holiday Shopping Preview: Ecommerce Grows as Brick-and-Mortar Stores Embrace Digital”, September 2014

3 Source: StellaService, December 2013

4 Source: Forrester Research, “Customer Desires vs. Retailer Capabilities: Minding The Omni-Channel Commerce Gap”, January 2014

5 Source: Internal Pandora metrics, 2013

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