Retailers are expecting this to be another year of growth across digital channels – especially mobile – to source, research and buy the majority of our Christmas shopping.
According to the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) Capgemini e-sales retail index, shoppers are set to spend £4.6bn online this Christmas.
IMRG and eDigitalResearch also estimate that almost £1 billion of that will be via mobile – a 15 per cent rise from last year.
Tracking online and mobile behaviour for several years, paying particular attention to the Christmas trading period, their data shows that 41 per cent of mobile owners will consider doing some of their shopping via smartphone, while 71 per cent of people owning tablets will be using them to make purchases this year.
Last year, 92 per cent of online customers made Christmas purchases – and according to the same research, that is set to rise to 96 this year.
That’s a big chunk of the UK market – it means that a lot of potential consumers will be online searching for brands, or suggestions about the perfect gift for that hard-to-buy-for person in their lives.
It all adds up to one simple fact: those brands and retailers offering attractive easy access, reasons to visit and return to their sites will be the big winners.
This particularly applies to their mobile offer. Bluntly, brands and retailers who overlook the opportunities offered by mobile are setting themselves up to fail.
Mobile-optimised websites increase engagement with consumers. Among advertisers with a mobile-specific site, visitors stay for an average of five minutes – two minutes longer than for sites without a mobile web presence.
As well as the advantages in user engagements, a good mobile presence can offer easy wins is search marketing. As paid search ramps up in the run up to the delivery deadlines, mobile traffic can be bought at a significantly cheaper rate compared to the near saturated desktop results.
With costs remaining low, it’s the right time to invest, because returns are likely to be high according to projections by both Adobe and Google.
Adobe is telling brands they still have a window of opportunity before prices rise significantly from their current relatively cheap cost per click (CPC) compared to desktop ads.
This year, tablet CPC fell by 20 per cent and mobile cost about half as much as traditional desktop search, so investment in search on tablet devices continues to offer a better return on investment than desktop.
Google’s CPC is currently at a bargain price, down 12 per cent year on year – providing brands with a better return on investment for their search marketing.
Time is now of the essence if brands are going to make the most of the dip in CPC, as increased demand will no doubt push prices up.
So it follows that this Christmas will be crucial for digital platforms: millions of consumers will be embracing search mechanisms. If their experience is positive, brands and retailers will benefit hugely, with new advocates and ambassadors on board to help push sales forward throughout 2013.
For brands, and especially for retailers, search has to become an ally. Consumers are keen to embrace the opportunities created by digital and especially mobile platforms, but remain risk-averse when it comes to converting research into purchases.
Shopping with trusted sites, retailers and brands is important. While 15 per cent of online shoppers expect to do more than three-quarters of their buying online, many more say they will research their gifts via mobile – and then purchase either in-store or online from Amazon, John Lewis or Marks & Spencer. These are the names most online shoppers regard as being ‘trustworthy’, according to IMRG.
Brands and retailers have to seize every opportunity to ensure their offers are easy to find, easy to buy, and sold securely. This is where a clear, user-friendly mobile strategy – with a strong focus on search and Pay Per Click advertising – comes into its own.
As more and more businesses recognise the benefits of PPC advertising, it will become even more necessary for advertisers to wring every drop of value from each pound spent. Advertisers have got to think beyond the click; looking to tailored landing pages and conversion rate optimisation process.
Successful retailers this year will be those who fully embrace all the opportunities mobile offers to make Christmas shopping a simple, straightforward and rewarding experience.
Crucially, to unleash the full potential of all those mobile engagements, they need to ensure they have their search facilities fully optimised and their search and PPC strategies properly in place.
Then they can truly enjoy a happy Christmas and look forward to carrying that business boost forward, turning 2013 into a prosperous – and far from empty – New Year.
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