Retailers: How To Engage Mobile Holiday Shoppers This Year

Many retailers are still not taking advantage of the power of mobile to increase in-store sales; columnist Allan Haims explains why and how they should.


While consumers are unquestionably connected to their smartphones, only a fraction of them is shopping via their mobile devices, which represents a huge missed opportunity for corporate retailers.

With more than 17.6 billion in-store shopping visits in November and December of 2013, retailers and malls alike have a vast opportunity to influence and target a captive audience’s purchasing choices every day, and even more so during the holiday shopping months when they are gift shopping.

To be clear, there are two separate but inextricably linked topics being discussed here: the use of mobile engagement strategies to get consumers into brick-and-mortar stores and mobile sales/transactions in general.

According to a recent study by Forrester Research for RetailMeNot, 84 percent of consumers use their smartphones while shopping in stores, but a lot fewer complete their purchase on a mobile device.

The mobile market offers numerous forms of engagement that retailers have yet to tap fully, and it can facilitate the acquisition of new customers who might shop either in-store or online. Our goal is to engage the consumer via their mobile device to influence their offline sales. The smartphone is a digital “handout” that is always on.

The big question is how to reach the target consumers on their mobile devices at the appropriate time, with relevant information.

To get people to receive the mobile sales strategies that marketing departments work so very hard on, one must first understand how people are currently behaving on their mobile devices.

  • Not Fond Of Sharing. Many people do not want to share their location data online, and that is information retailers are very interested in, especially when targeting customers who are already in the vicinity.
  • Push Is Pushy. Likewise, consumers do not like to enable push notifications, and more and more consumers are utilizing ad blockers to eliminate the noise and annoyance. When they are using their phone for emails, Facebook, Twitter, navigation and so on, the last thing they want is to be pinged with “spam.”
  • The Fewer Apps The Better. Most people are becoming more selective in the number and type of apps they are adding to their phones. App “real estate” is limited; shoppers will download their favorite retailer apps, but this may only translate into two or three brands despite a consumer’s pattern of shopping at many different stores.

Given these impediments, how, can we reach the right audience with effective mobile strategies?

Increase The Number Of Available Wi-Fi Networks In Stores And Malls

Consumers often find themselves inside a shopping mall with poor cellular coverage, which can prove incredibly frustrating.

Readily available free mall Wi-Fi without cumbersome registration pages enables patrons to easily access the internet and to search for pertinent promotions. And shoppers who can sign on to local Wi-Fi tend to stay in stores longer, giving retailers more time to engage their target audience.

Readily available Wi-Fi also eliminates the need for the customer to download additional apps using their data plan, preventing possible disengagement. Moreover, with the internet now at their fingertips, shoppers can now pull as much information as they need from the Web to make an informed purchase decision.

There is an added benefit to making Wi-Fi easily available. An examination of Wi-Fi usage information can reveal key patterns regarding peak buying periods, such as during the holidays, at certain stores or given certain types of promotions.

Malls and retailers can then optimize their on-site customer engagement strategies based on actual empirical data. Predictive behavior models can be designed to deliver the most relevant information by time of day, day of the week and shopper profile.

Couple The Pull And Push Promotions

As is often the case, a customer may complete a browser-based search while in the mall for an item, such as running shoes. A pull promotion may get that shopper into a specific store.

However, if they get a beacon ping or push promotion for water bottles while they are trying on the shoes, location relevancy may just get them to buy a water bottle as well.

Rather than blasting customers upon entering the mall about merchandise that may be completely irrelevant to them, this hybrid “pull and push” mobile strategy is aimed more specifically at the target consumer’s preferences and is more likely to be effective.

And as we all know, consumers who are shopping in crowded malls around the holidays are always looking for quicker ways to get in and out of the stores — not to mention seeking great deals.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

(Some images used under license from


Marketing Land – Internet Marketing News, Strategies & Tips


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.