TECHNOLOGY

Mobile is a priority for shoppers

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

More consumers will be reaching for their smartphones this holiday season.

This was according to new data from RootMetrics that revealed many consumers (45%) plan to use their smartphone for online shopping. Millennials are even bigger fans of mobile shopping, with over half (52%) plan to use a smartphone to purchase the bulk of holiday gifts.

Mobile pay, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same hype. In fact, 37% of consumers don’t think mobile pay apps compare in convenience to traditional cash or credit cards. Another 36% worry their data is not secure on these platforms.

The good news is smartphones are driving the adoption of other connected devices, which offers retailers more opportunities to connect with mobile shoppers. When it comes to Internet of Things (IoT) adoption, 21% of consumers in the United States use a smartphone to run an IoT device at least once a day.

However, many still aren’t convinced it is time to adopt smart devices. When asked why they wouldn’t purchase a connected device, like Alexa or a smart TV, 32% said they don’t have a need for this technology.

As mobile usage increases, shoppers are becoming less tolerant when it comes to sketchy network connections — not only from a frustration level but also when it comes to their safety. In fact, 47% noted they feel unsafe in a mobile “dead zone.” While 42% men noted feeling unsafe in a dead zone, 52% of women noted the same, including two-thirds (67%) of Millennial women.

When it comes to assigning blame for poor service, 46% of consumers blame their carriers over location or device, data revealed.

“A strong mobile network performance is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity,” said Kevin Hasley, head of product at RootMetrics and executive director of performance benchmarking. “Today’s connected consumers demand a network that can keep up with their daily needs. As the IoT and other mobile technologies continue to evolve, we can expect carriers to invest in improving their networks to meet changing expectations and offer consumers a fast, secure connection.”

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TECHNOLOGY

When did the most Black Friday weekend sales really occur?

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Online transactions rose during Thanksgiving weekend, however that’s not when the strongest growth happened.

This was according to data from Hitwise that revealed the top 50 retail sites processed 75.1 million transactions via desktop and mobile browsers during the seven days ending Monday, Nov. 26. This was up from 65.5 million for the same period in 2017, an increase of 15%.

However, non-peak days posted transaction increases of 20%, on average, versus 11% growth on the three peak days of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The day before Thanksgiving is becoming especially important, as daily transactions reached 7.6 million this year, up 40% from the day before Thanksgiving in 2017.

“Interestingly, the three peak shopping days—while posting increases strong increases—saw their share of peak week transactions decline slightly to 59% from 61% year-over-year, pointing to a growing importance of the non-peak days of peak week,” said John Fetto, Hitwise senior analyst.

Overall, 44.5 million transactions were completed on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, up from 40.0 million in 2017. Cyber Monday was again the top buying day of the week with 16 million transactions (up from 14.6 million in 2017), followed by Black Friday with 14.8 million transactions (up from 13.0 million in 2017). Thanksgiving Day had 13.7 million transactions (up from 12.5 million in 2017).

When it came to overall online visits, there were 2.3 billion visits during peak week, up a modest 2.4% year-over-year. Traffic to these sites the week prior was up 3.7% year-over-year, providing evidence that Americans were lured online earlier than usual by week-long Black Friday sales.

Amazon still dominated the week, accounting for 26% of visits, and 59% of all transactions processed by the top 50 retailers. However, Amazon’s share of both visits and transactions were at their lowest point of the year during peak week due to intense competition from other retailers. By comparison, between January and October, Amazon accounts for 31% of visits and 79% of transactions, data revealed.

Year-over-year, top retailers captured a greater concentration of sales across the top three days of peak week. Specifically, sales were up 3% among the top 10 retailers. Among those top retailers, some performed better than others. Amazon, for instance, saw transactions increase between 11% and 18% over the three peak shopping days and even managed to capture a slightly greater share of transactions this year versus last.

Kohl’s, Target and Costco, however, posted among the strongest growth year-over-year in terms of transactions. Kohl’s saw transactions increase 51% over the three peak shopping days, and share of transactions increased 35%. Target, saw transactions increase 48%, and share increased 33%. Costco’s transactions increased 61% and share rose 45%, according to the study.

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TECHNOLOGY

Grocery Retail 2019: Five predictions

BY Marianne Wilson

Grocery retail is going through a significant reinvention as it continues to move into the era of the consumer. Below, Sy Fahimi, senior VP product strategy, Symphony RetailAI, provides his predictions on what retailers will be focusing on in 2019.

Rise of voice in retail. While voice ordering is still in its infancy, the rise of voice assistants in other areas of retail demonstrates the value of speech recognition. As voice continues to grow in popularity, we’ll see it assist consumers, improving efficiency around ordering groceries and delivering to their fridge. Voice technology can also be implemented internally to stream-line a retailer’s processes and operations.

Online grocery shopping makes gains. Online will become a bigger part of the overall shopping experience. While in-store and online will continue to converge into one channel – allowing consumers to order online and pick up in store, or use click and collect – online will play a larger role in influencing purchases, as consumers get inspiration from social media use or viewing recipes, for example.

Grocers will also become much more adept at providing consistent and engaging updates for online customers, a la GrubHub or Dominos, giving them valuable real-time insight into their order status and reducing the friction between in-store control and online convenience.

The blurring of channels. Shoppers are always connected and always on their phone. Because of this, we’re not only going to see the blurring of lines between online and in-store, but between every channel.

Independent channels, formats and brands will all blur to become more experience-based. For example, we will see more grocery stores that also have restaurants and banks inside, which is how retailers will be able to compete with Amazon. With Amazon, the consumer experience is always the same, no matter the product purchased, so it’s up to retailers to provide a friendly and engaging shopping environment.

Empowered consumers demand fresh and local. We’ll see continued, accelerated growth around fresh and local foods. Consumers are more informed, empowered and selective in terms of what they want to eat more than ever, requiring more product transparency, especially when it comes to a food’s source.

Private labels accelerate CPG innovation. Discount supermarkets have invested in private label products, and as a result of this, the quality of private label has caught up to the brand itself. Shoppers have more choices than ever, and for a much lower cost can buy private label items. This is an issue for CPGs currently distributing their products through the stores, as this model is being disrupted.

For the first time, CPGs are looking at direct-to-consumer ways to promote their brand and influence shoppers, instead of relying on retailers. As a result, CPGs have begun to create data management platforms as they influence and communicate with consumers.

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