As footfall drops, is mobile marketing the answer to bring customers back in store for Christmas? Jonathan Erwin, managing director of internet marketing company Aspect Web Media, looks at the increase in the uptake of M-commerce and how location-based mobile marketing could bring customers back to the high street for Christmas.
According to the British Retail Consortium, footfall on the UK's high streets has seen its sharpest drop since the snow last December, with footfall between August and September falling 2.3% compared to the same period last year. Part of the reason it seems is that shoppers are moving beyond the high street – and even their PCs – to Smartphones.
Findings by IBM suggest that 15% of consumers will access retailers' websites on web-connected mobile devices in the run up to Christmas, and a report commissioned by the Centre for Retail Research suggests UK shoppers will spend £1.64 billion on purchases for the festive season through their handsets this year – more than any other country in Europe.
Add to this the fact that over 12% of our online Christmas shopping will be done via mobiles – the 4th highest proportion in Europe – and it's clear that mobile sites offer huge potential for retailers looking to draw in consumers. By adding location-based promotions into the mix, brands can use the impulsive nature of M-commerce to connect with customers on-the-go via their mobile phones, whilst simultaneously offering them a voucher or discount code which can be used in store.
More than a standalone site - tie it back to the store
Many companies – such as Debenhams – are already moving towards standalone mobile websites in an attempt to draw in customers, and M-commerce provides new shopping opportunities. For example, the peak trading time for Debenhams' mobile site is 10pm, proving how mobile sites allow customers to shop at a time that best suits them.
But does a standalone site truly add value to all other aspects of a brand's marketing strategy? The answer is to tie it back to the store. The true power of M-commerce lies in brands investing in personalised, customer-focused sites which offer an incentive for customers to visit the store, increasing footfall, and ultimately increasing consumer spend as they move around the store – a factor which is particularly important in the run-up to Christmas.