Retailers: What online shoppers want from you for the holidays

Marking purchases on a tablet

Plan now for explosive growth in mobile commerce.

Mobile commerce is exploding. On Black Friday last year – the day after Thanksgiving – purchases made from mobile devices totaled 21.8 percent of e-commerce spending, according to IBM Digital Analytics real-time benchmarking.

This year’s UPS/comScore study underscores the growing importance of mobile, as well as the need to dovetail your mobile and social media efforts with online and retail store locations.

Cyber Monday 2013 was the biggest online shopping day in history, with a 20.6 percent increase in online sales. Sales on mobile devices jumped to 17 percent of total sales, a 55.4 percent gain over 2012.

Mobile traffic soared through the entire holiday season, reaching 35.8 percent of all online traffic and sales of 17.8 percent for November and December combined. Christmas Day set the high-water mark, when mobile’s percentage reached 48.1 percent of all e-commerce traffic and sales topped out at 28.9 percent.

The recently released 2014 UPS Pulse of the Online ShopperTM study, conducted by comScore, supports these findings. Online shoppers seek an “omnichannel” experience that includes mobile. A shopper wants a seamless experience browsing on his or her smartphone but often moves to a tablet or a desktop personal computer to make the purchase, then back to the mobile phone to track the package. Compared with tablets, smartphones generated twice the online traffic; tablet traffic was three times more likely to convert to sales.

This year’s UPS/comScore study underscores the growing importance of mobile, as well as the need to dovetail your mobile and social media efforts with online and retail store locations, says Bala Ganesh, UPS retail segment marketing director. He shares these key steps to take now to get as much leverage as you can from peak season:

  • Optimize your website for the mobile experience. A complicated layout and poor functionality can leave consumers cold. According to the UPS/comScore study, 43 percent of online shoppers found that mobile devices didn't allow for a large enough product image, and one in four found the checkout process too difficult. Summer and early fall are the times to make changes that will optimize the experience for mobile consumers, Ganesh says. “For example, if you are going to be sending out e-mails promoting discounts or offering coupons, chances are your buyer is going to be clicking on a mobile device,” he says. “You don’t want to miss that opportunity.”
  • Consider adding a mobile app for customers. Downloadable apps are increasingly valuable as vehicles for improving customer retention, using loyalty programs and coupons as ways to make customers feel loved. “The UPS/comScore study shows that 39 percent of smartphone users currently use their smartphone to use or redeem coupons, and another 40 percent would consider doing so,” Ganesh says.
  • Promote UPS My Choice®. The UPS/comScore survey shows that the most common use of smartphones is to track deliveries, and that roughly 80 percent of online buyers want to receive e-mail status updates about their packages. “Consumers want to know the specific date when a package will arrive, not just a range,” he says. “You can achieve that by integrating your website with our Time in Transit API, and by recommending that your customers sign up for UPS My Choice," Ganesh says. “Just put a link to UPS My Choice on your ship confirmation e-mail.”
  • Sync with social media. Nearly one in three online shoppers uses social media to make buying decisions, according to the UPS/comScore study, and four out of five shoppers who “like” a Facebook retailer pay attention to posted updates. “It may be difficult to tie sales directly to an investment in social media, but you need to keep it in the mix,” says Ganesh. “About 20 percent of all consumers are influenced by social media, but that number is closer to 50 percent for millennials,” he says.

For more insight on what online shoppers want, download 2014 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study.


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Joe Tate
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