November 20, 2013

Are we set to have a very mobile Christmas?

Written By Martin Sandhu

Whilst it’s been a few years now that retailers have been launching their online sales on Christmas day, the uptake of smartphones and tablets and the increase in retailers with mobile apps or optimised websites meant that shoppers didn’t even need to get out of bed on Christmas day to grab a bargain.

The figures speak for themselves; in December 2012 the British Retail Consortium reported a 17.8% increase in online sales. This year the figure is set to surge again, with a large proportion of the £40bn we’ll be shelling out over Christmas, spent via a mobile device. Adobe has predicted that smartphone shopping will grow by 97% during the festive season compared to last year, with tablets growing 60%, and the total of European online sales made via mobile expected to reach 12.4%, an increase of close 70% year-on-year.

Some of the biggest names in retail are already starting to make the most of it. John Lewis is predicting that mobile traffic will outstrip desktop traffic to its website for the first time this Christmas, in preparation they’ve launched a new transactional iPad app and installed free wi-fi in all of their stores.

A number of high street stores are taking advantage of augmented reality (AR) too; Argos, Miss Selfridge and Accessorize have all joined forces with the app Blippar to make their gift guides shoppable via mobile. The AR app lets smartphone and tablet users buy directly from their paper guide by scanning the enhanced pages. As well as this instant buy function; the stores have added additional mobile-exclusive content such as behind the scenes video footage. The guides also allow shoppers to digitally ‘try’ items before they buy them, and share images via social networks from the mobile fitting room.

The peak shopping times over Christmas are of course out of office hours – the second Sunday in December, dubbed mobile Sunday, and Christmas morning. So if your app or mobile site can’t cope, it’s unlikely you’ll know about it until you go on Twitter and find a flurry of angry would-be customers. Load-testing your mobile platforms is essential. Look back at the data from other peak times, see how your platforms performed and try to identify where and at what point any issues may occur.

If you have mobile platforms in place this Christmas, make sure they rise to the challenge!