By Peri Kadaster
Vice President of Marketing
‘Tis the season… to be merry, yes, but also to be frantically hitting those year-end numbers. Whether it’s a budget to spend, sales target to reach, or some other calendar year metric, many of us are not yet able to enjoy that eggnog before we can close the gap to our holiday goals. Those of us in retail especially are feeling the fervor of key milestones whizzing by us: “Black Friday” (which crept into Thanksgiving this year), “Cyber Monday,” “last-minute shopping,” “after-Christmas deals,” “New Year’s blow outs,” etc. Before you know it, it’s President’s Day and we’re left with our heads spinning on what we did in that flash of Q4 and, more importantly, did we do it right?
At CoffeeTable, we aggregate hundreds of shopping catalogs (think Crate & Barrel, Paper Source, Macy’s, Sephora – and hundreds more) into a single app for the iPad and iPhone. Given the real-time nature of e-commerce and mobile especially, we are in both the coveted as well as high-stakes position of helping our retailer partners maximize their engagement with increasingly omnichannel shoppers.
At the halfway point of the 2012 holiday season, we’d like to pause to catch our breath and say – what just happened? And how can we maximize the value of the retail ecosystem over the next three (disproportionately critical) weeks?
Black Friday really starts on Thursday.
Anecdotally, many of us noticed that the “Black Friday” deals have been creeping earlier and earlier into the week – with many big box retailers opening their brick & mortar stores on Thanksgiving Thursday (“Grey Thursday”) for early deals, it seems natural that e-commerce would follow suit.
CoffeeTable took the opportunity over Thanksgiving weekend to roll out its new iPhone version of the app, so that if shoppers did ultimately brave the mall crowds, they would have the catalog experience to guide them before, during, and after their brick-and-mortar experience – right in their pocket.
On CoffeeTable more broadly, we certainly saw user behavior spike on Thanksgiving, especially on iPad. We know, quantitatively and qualitatively, that shopping on tablets represents a “lean back,” entertainment-like experience (versus intent or search-driven shopping like we do on Amazon or Google). With all the leisure time Americans have during the Thanksgiving holiday, whether it’s before or after the big meal, shoppers came to tablet shopping apps like CoffeeTable in droves. Indeed, CoffeeTable saw 300% of the traffic it traditionally does week-over-week on that Thanksgiving Thursday.
Retailers can no longer afford to wait until Friday or even Monday – if your shoppers are looking to be engaged on Thanksgiving, shouldn’t you be there?
Mobile is a big deal. Really, this time.
While it seems that every year since the early 2000’s was purported to be the “year of mobile,” 2012 seems to be the actual tipping point. According to a report from Deloitte, 68 percent of smartphone users are planning to use their devices for shopping this holiday season, and smartphones are predicted to influence $36 billion of in-store sales during this period. With 26.9 million iPhones sold last quarter alone, retailers now have the opportunity to engage with consumers in new, incremental ways outside of the traditional brick and mortar stores and e-commerce sites. Marketplaces like CoffeeTable, which aggregate retailers into a digital mall, are critical to driving engagement across channels.
One leading home & garden retailer, for example, saw firsthand the impact of mobile on its shopper base in several ways:
- Through a customer matchback analysis, this retailer found that for each order made directly from the CoffeeTable App, CoffeeTable drove more than 10 other transactions from shoppers who purchased directly on the retailer’s website after browsing its catalogs on CoffeeTable.
- The retailer was also able to re-engage and provide additional value to its highest value customers: CoffeeTable already attracts many of the retailer’s highest value customers. The customers that browsed its catalogs on CoffeeTable averaged 26% higher revenue per customer versus all shared shoppers. Partnering with CoffeeTable ensures that the retailer has a presence where its most valuable shoppers are spending time.
- The retailer successfully prospected a high value audience: CoffeeTable is a highly effective prospecting tool for the retailer to acquire high-value customers that have a higher average order value (AOV) and maintaining exposure to new shoppers while they are in the consideration phase leads to even larger gains in AOV and orders per shopper.
Mobile is not just a matter of last decade’s clunky web browsing and SMS deals; due in large parts to improvements in retailers’ mobile experiences and innovation from companies like CoffeeTable, shoppers now not only value but expect a seamless experience across channels – digital and physical alike.
We’re not out of the woods yet: and that’s good news.
It’s December 13. A near-sighted retailer may think there are only less than a dozen shopping days left. In reality, there is a wealth of consumer value waiting to be unlocked immediately after Christmas Day.
Over the next 12 days, there is a large swath of customers (admittedly – myself included) that just haven’t started shopping. Whether through choice or necessity, we may find ourselves rushing to malls before they close, searching frantically on Amazon for the must-have items, or – more realistically – trying to think of how to even get started on gift ideas, and flipping through tried and true catalogs that arrive in the mail for inspiration.
Mobile commerce presents retailers and advertisers opportunity to capture an ever-larger share of wallet, while driving real-time (impulse!) purchases; so why can’t mobile play the “last minute” shopper value game too? CoffeeTable is kicking off a free two-day shipping program December 17-21 exactly for that reason. We know that last-minute shoppers are no longer tethered to their computers, but rather are looking to make quick shopping decisions on the go via smartphone, or in their leisure time on tablets. CoffeeTable’s role at the intersection of the discovery-based catalog shopping experience with the convenience of e-commerce makes it the last-minute shopper’s best friend.
But don’t let the Christmas hangover fool you – the best is yet to come. With the flood of iPad 4s, iPad Minis, iPhone 5s, and resulting hand-me-down iPad 2s and 3s expected to hit the market, that total addressable market of mobile and tablet shoppers is expected to skyrocket on December 26th. This presents a critical opportunity for retailers, to reach out to an emerging, incremental consumer base through a new channel. Building brand awareness and engagement through touch points on leading apps like CoffeeTable is one key way to do so.
As we continue the holiday sprint, it is incumbent on all of us in retail / multichannel / anywhere consumer-facing to ask the question: where are my consumers? Both current, and prospective? The biggest mistake a retailer can make is assume that 2012 will look like 2011. I can tell you categorically it will not – shopping behavior has fundamentally hit an inflection point this year, and the 2012 holiday data has already borne out that this is no carbon copy, but rather a mobile, inspiration-seeking, discerning consumer base looking to have a very good shopping season. It’s up to us to deliver against that.