Mobile holiday plans crucial, but one size does not fit all

It's summer, which means hot dogs, 100 degree temperatures, and planning for the holiday season—well, at least for retailers. For this group, it's not too early to begin worrying about gift delivery and winter storm warnings, and the 2015 season is shaping up to bigger and more challenging on the mobile front than ever.

IBM released its "Eighth Annual Online Retail Holiday Readiness Report" last week, revealing that the importance of mobile isn't likely to diminish. In November and December of last year, mobile accounted for 22.6 percent of all sales and 45 percent of traffic.

This year, mobile made up 47.4 percent of traffic to retail sites in the United States in March, compared with 28.7 percent for the same period of time in 2013. Mobile sales have almost doubled over the same span, jumping from 12.5 percent in March 2013 to 24.4 percent this year.

That means having a strategy in place for mobile is key this holiday season, and retailers need to be aware of exactly how shoppers use different devices. According to IBM's research, smartphones are preferred for gathering product information, as 34.2 percent of site traffic came from phones in March 2015 versus 12.8 percent from tablets. But when it comes to making the purchase, tablets edge out their smaller brethren 13.6 percent to 10.7 percent.

Those same customers are spending less time overall browsing sites, though, preferring instead to find the information they need and get out. Average session length has hit a new low of 6:42 minutes, and page and product views have slipped 8 and 10 percent respectively since 2013. IBM attributes this largely to better analytics and targeting.

"Consumers continue to fill up their free pockets of time throughout the day by hopping on their smartphone or tablet to browse items and make purchases," IBM wrote in a blog post. "At the same time, retailers are beginning to embrace new analytics-driven innovations that allow them to personalize each customer campaign and quickly connect them with the items they want, when and where they want it."

Increasingly, retailers are also taking advantage of mobile to make the in-store shopping experience more efficient. A report recently published by Boston Retail Partners found that nearly two-thirds of retailers plan to ID shoppers using their phones when they enter a store, helping them further personalize offers.

For more:
-See this IBM blog post

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