Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent

Dr. Kiseol Yang, Assistant Professor-Merchandising & Digital Retailing, University of North Texas

By Dr. Kiseol Yang

(Third in a Series on the Holiday Shopping Season. For the Complete Package Go to the Bottom of this Post.)

The sales and consumer shopping patterns that came about on Thanksgiving and Black Fridaydemonstrated that consumers are more technologically empowered when it comes to finding better deals across channels.

This was evident in a 17.4 percent and 20.7 percent increase in online sales on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, respectively. When compared with the same weekend in 2011, an increasing number of consumers chose to shop online with their PCs, smartphones or tablets as opposed to waiting in lines at brick-and mortar stores.

What caused this trend? It may be the result of some retailers offering early online Thanksgiving and Black Friday promotions to hook those consumers who already worked on their shopping lists or researched deals across channels.

While consumers engaged with Black Friday sales consolidation sites, like www.Blackfriday.com, and scrutinized Black Friday flyers, they also took note of their shopping items and determined which shopping channels would offer them the best experience in terms of price point and hassle point. In addition, retailers recognized that technologically-empowered and savvy consumers would engage with retailers across a wide array of touch points in search of better deals and promotions, a result of the era of agile commerce. Retailers recognize that consumers are more connected than ever before and in order to remain competitive, they must find new channels and value propositions to attract those same consumers.

As shown in online Black Friday sales, consumers are more comfortable and confident when it comes to making  purchases online as opposed to waiting in long lines and dealing with holiday shopping crowds.  Consumers opted to use online, mobile, and social media for finding and sharing deals and information with the swipe of a finger.

Mobile site traffic and mobile shopping transactions increased as consumers continue to rapidly adopt mobile devices as personal shopping assistants when they are on the move, resulting in 24 percent of consumers using mobile devices to visit retailer sites. Furthermore, mobile sales exceeded 16 percent, up from 9.8 percent in 2011 according to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark.

As consumers flocked to their mobile devices on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, retailers made efforts to reach consumers at every touch point, across all channels, offering alternative promotions. And, as mobile traffic continues to increase, retailers would be wise to pay more and more attention to the mobile shopper segment, which will certainly continue to thrive on Cyber Monday.

As retailers move beyond the Black Friday frenzy, it will be important for them to reexamine their strategies for success as the remainder of the holiday season wears on. Those who will be most successful will be those who continue to connect and engage with their customers at every touch point.  As the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark shows us, shopping is a whole new ball game, as consumers utilize multiple screens and multiple touch points to seek the best deals and promotions this holiday season.

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