It’s hard to believe that the holiday season is already upon us. It seems like yesterday was Labor Day, and now, Christmas decorations are on display at malls across America – even though we still have 3 weeks until Thanksgiving!
Retailers are getting ready for the big holiday push, but how exactly are they preparing? By getting every possible shopping channel up and running, including ecommerce and mobile commerce (M-commerce) – to satisfy consumers’ desire to pay any way they want.
Retail ecommerce is expected to be strong during this year’s holiday season: eMarketer estimates that sales during the core holiday November–December period will reach $79.4 billion, an increase of 13.9% from the same time in 2014, continuing a multi-year trend of double-digit growth. E-ommerce’s share of overall retail sales will rise to 9% during the holiday shopping season, well above its predicted 7.1% share of total retail sales for the year. And M-commerce sales will grow 32% in 2015.
Why the increase in M-commerce?
The uptick in mobile commerce can be attributed to the enhancements in technology – larger phone screens, mobile-optimized web pages, and new, easy-to-use retail applications all make shopping on mobile phones and tablets a more seamless, easy process for consumers.
An easier process means that consumers aren’t just looking on their mobile devices, they are also buying. According to Deloitte’s holiday spending survey released Tuesday, 41% of shoppers who will use a smartphone this season said they will use it to make a purchase – up 6 percentage points over last year.
If you build it they will come
Smartphones, now better designed and built for online shopping, have increased consumer acceptance of mobile transactions. In order to take advantage of the growth in M-commerce, as well as maximize holiday sales, retailers need to have the “build it and they will come” mentality when thinking about their mobile strategy.
In a recent PayPal global mobile survey of shopping trends, 47% of those who have shopped by mobile said that they prefer to use an app over a browser, for convenience and speed. So while many businesses have been focused on creating mobile-friendly sites, it is important to have an app strategy also.
Providing retailer apps that consumers can easily navigate is one of the biggest trends in M-commerce. Apps can engage users and bring a business front of mind to potential customers, so that even if they leave the app, they return later to make a purchase.
A big advocate of M-commerce, Macy’s recently introduced seasonal mobile apps to connect with holiday shoppers of all ages, with the goal of reaching potential customers ahead of the holiday shopping craze, fueling potential future sales. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade app allows users to learn about the parade floats and follow the parade route via a mobile screen, while their Wish Writer app provides children festive games and the ability to write a letter to Santa, while simultaneously providing an outlet for donations to the Make-A-Wish organization.
Consumers want a seamless experience, whether they walk into a store, order online, via mobile browser, via an app, or call on the phone. Being able to make a purchase on one channel and return to another is also important to consumers – ordering online and picking up or making a return in-store.
Regardless of how shoppers use their mobile phones this holiday – to browse, research or purchase – retailers need to consider mobile consumers a powerful force in spending. According to Deloitte, consumers who both visit stores and use the Web will spend 75% more than those who strictly shop at bricks-and-mortar locations.
Secure the fortress
However, the growth in mobile commerce has fueled the likelihood of fraud, as hackers go where the purchasing is. Consumers may want a seamless experience, but continued growth for any retailer – whether brick-and-mortar retail or mobile apps – depends heavily on a keeping their customer’s credit card data secure.
Implementing a mobile strategy will require retailers to keep fraud prevention a top priority. A built-in security system that includes tokenization and Point-to-Point Encryption (P2PE) can limit what hackers can steal via malware. Both technologies devalue credit card data, making decrypted and tokenized card data useless to criminals. Bluefin Payment Systems’ QuickSwipe mobile solution offers PCI-validated P2PE as well as tokenization security solutions that keep a retailer’s network and their customer’s mobile devices secure – keeping the focus off fraud and back on a festive holiday shopping season for all.