Holiday Retail: To Be or Not To Be Mobile?



Today, we bring you an article from staff writer Carly Curran, who kicks off our holiday retail series on  Recently, we predicted that this year would be a banner one for mobile technology at the point of sale.  Today, however, she reports on some mixed messages from retail forecasters as well as some positive predictions for the mobile retail sector.

Mixed Messages


Last month, Litle & Co., a payment-processing leader, spearheaded a study on mobile payment trends for the upcoming holiday season.  The study, conducted by ResearchNow, included 500 shoppers and delivered worrisome results for mobile payment providers.

The big surprise is that although 60% of the survey participants own smartphones or tablets that support mobile shopping, only 25% have actually used the devices in that capacity.

Of those who do use their mobile devices to shop, the average item price for the majority of respondents (63%) was between $20 and $100. Based on these numbers, big ticket spending, while it may be happening online, isn’t happening on mobile devices.

According to the Litle & Co. study, digital wallets aren’t penetrating the market as fast as one might expect, either. Only 8.6% of shoppers believe that mobile payments and digital wallets will change the payment world. In the face of grim survey data, Litle & Co. urges retailers to track shoppers’ habits this holiday season and then fine-tune mobile strategies from there.

In contrast to the aforementioned bleak outlook, PriceGrabber, an online shopping comparison site, recently released results of a holiday shopping study conducted last month. This is PriceGrabbers second holiday shopping survey, and they polled just under 2,500 U.S. online shopping consumers.

The PriceGrabber study found that 31% of consumers already have shopping apps on their phones, and of those, 82% plan on using apps to save money gift shopping. “Instead of clipping coupons, shoppers are scouring the Internet and turning to their mobile devices to find the best deals,” stated Rojeh Avanesian, vice president of marketing and analytics of PriceGrabber.

In terms of price points, here is what the PriceGrabber survey said:

  • 42% of consumers said they plan to purchase both big- and small-ticket items with a mobile shopping app
  • 41% will purchase small-ticket items under $100
  • 10% plan to purchase all of the holiday gifts on their list using shopping apps
  • 7% will purchase big-ticket items over $100.

A Different (Than Intended) Use for Shopping Apps

One of the issues (related to the emergence of online shopping apps) that has hit retailers hard, is price matching. Last year, Amazon came out with a Price Check app that allows users to compare prices for millions of products available on Included in the Price Check app is a bar code scanner, which simplifies price comparison for products with lengthy descriptions.

This year, retailers like Best Buy and Target have promised to match competitor’s prices during the holiday shopping season. Even PayPal has jumped on the trend, offering customers cash back on any price variations for products purchased with a PayPal account, including air travel.

To be credited, a PayPal user must find the price discrepancy thirty days from the original purchase (seven days for air travel). Each customer has a $1,000 maximum refund limit, and $250 maximum limit per item. PayPal will also pay for return shipping, up to $100 per customer account.

All of this to suggest that, while smartphone users may not necessarily be shopping and purchasing most of their holiday gifts via mobile, they are likely searching out deals. Even through apps like Groupon and Living Social, holiday spenders are looking to maximize their savings using technology, even if they are currently making purchases the old-fashioned way.



More on Little & Co.

More on PriceGrabber.

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About the Author

Editorial Team is a leading industry news site for the point of sale and payments industry.We are also the go-to resource for small business owners that want expert tips and inspiration on how to run a successful business. Collectively, our team of experts has decades of POS, payments, and small business experience.