Summer can be rough for retailers. The warm weather beckons us outside, far from any storefront. We don’t quit shopping entirely, however. For retailers with a smart summer strategy, there’s money to be made.
If your sales have been less sunny from Mother’s Day through Labor Day, try these tips based on a recent survey of summer mobile shopping trends to boost this year’s forecast:
1. Stick with sales. Nearly 73 percent of survey respondents prefer to wait for sales before they go shopping. If you discount, they will come.
2. Skip “exclusive” sales. Opt for multichannel sales instead. Only about 4 percent of respondents liked members-only sales, and online-only and store-only sales also rated poorly. Storewide discounts and “buy one, get one” promotions are far more popular. If you can’t cut prices throughout the store, make discounts relevant to the holiday (e.g., sandals, grills, American flag-themed items) to correlate with the time people tend to buy such merchandise.
3. Focus on email and text (SMS) marketing. Respondents said their favorite ways to be notified of upcoming sales were via email and SMS. (They’re not as different as you might think — the majority of email is read on mobile devices.) With social media and in-app messaging ranking lowest, a great way to leverage email is to send coupons for store credit. PetFlow, for example, emailed its subscribers a coupon for $4.25 off a same-day purchase. Instant store credit makes it clear what the shopper is giving up by ignoring the sale, and it works better than a percentage off.
4. Grow your SMS and email subscriber lists. Take a cue from online beauty retailer Julep. When the company offered 50 percent off the next purchase to anyone who signed up to receive text messages, its SMS subscriber base grew from zero to 5,000 in one day.
5. Employ beacon technology. People want to engage with brands on mobile devices, but not enough is done to make shopping experiences holistic. Less than 15 percent of respondents were familiar with beacon technology, which — as used by ELLE Magazine, for instance — can combine the powers of suggestion and proximity to increase sales by sending promotions to customers based on their physical location.
6. Don’t fear showrooming. Approximately 45 percent of respondents prefer to make both in-store and online purchases. While most (67 percent) will compare in-store prices, only 2 percent browse in-store and then buy online. To make comparison shopping simple, use dot points in the product list and color-code data to make it easier to scan. Don’t hide the “Compare” button.
7. Optimize your online storefront for mobile. Nearly half of survey respondents prefer shopping on their smartphones, and that number jumps to almost 60 percent with tablets included. You must cater to this demographic with smartly formatted images and fonts, as well as the ability to easily comparison shop.
8. Streamline your checkout process. Do more than just make your website size-optimized for mobile; put as few clicks as possible between your customers and their purchases.
To find success, mobile must play a big part in your growth strategy. People expect always-on shopping experiences, with the ability to buy what they want when they want where they want, regardless of online or offline preferences or availability. They want immersive experiences that leverage the best of both in-store and mobile shopping.
Yes, for a lot of shoppers it still comes down to having the best price. However, these tips will help you implement a mobile-first strategy that will fully engage consumers and benefit your brand.
Ray Beharry is head of marketing at Pollfish, a company whose online survey tool helps businesses make educated decisions by providing relevant, meaningful, and customizable consumer opinion data in real time.