Holiday sales promotions are being thrust upon us sooner this year than ever before with advertising being rolled out weeks before Halloween. Retailers and online merchants are hoping to cash in on $640 billion in holiday spending. More than 10% will be ecommerce sales expected to exceed $60 billion; of that figure, mobile sales are projected to comprise 16%, according to eMarketer. Bargain-conscious consumers will tap into BOGO sales, coupons, promotions and free shipping to stretch their holiday dollars.
What Consumers Expect
Holiday shopping isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – and that applies to online shopping as well. At the top of many people’s complaint list are issues associated with product quality and reliability, followed by refunds and returns. Buying products sight unseen brings its own set of rules and expectations for consumers. Catalog and online shoppers expect that the items they order are available for immediate delivery with a guaranteed delivery date. Free extended warranties and generous return policies are also important considerations. Twenty percent of retailers who responded to a Google Think Insight survey consider free shipping to be a deciding factor for shoppers this year, so you can expect that to be a common incentive to lure customers.
Multi-task with Smartphone Apps
Millions of consumers use the Internet to shop for gift ideas, compare brands and find the best deals. More than 25% of the approximate 5 billion cell phones worldwide are smart phones providing access to millions of apps that have turned what was once simply a telephone – into a virtual shopping portal. You can:
- Comparison shop
- Get discounts and coupons
- Maintain receipts and lists
- Research store hours, delivery charges
- Avoid wasted trips and long lines
- Entertain restless kids
Start with a List
To make the most out of shopping with a smart phone, begin with a list. The web is simply too big to expect to be productive without one. A list will help keep things organized and prevent overspending. Make it even more practical by keeping the list on your phone using one of the hundreds of apps designed for that purpose. Apps such as Better Christmas List for iPhone and Christmas List Pro for android devices allow you to share your lists via individual user names and passwords, track spending and check off items as you purchase them.
Once your list is complete, you now have specifics to work with and can begin shopping. Check out the various brands online and the merchants who sell them. Save even more with free shipping and returns and extended warranties.
Taking Advantage of Discounts & Coupons
Signing up for email updates is the easiest way to enjoy a particular merchant’s discounts, personalized deals and specials. Following a merchant’s Facebook and Twitter page is another great way to get updates and save money. If you’re interested in more unique gifts, begin your shopping adventure at a shopping portal like eBates where hundreds of merchants are linked, giving you a one-stop shopping experience while saving a percentage on every purchase. Download Coupon Sherpa, a mobile coupon app, directly to your smart phone. Simply find the retailer you’re shopping at and locate the coupon you want to use. Show the cashier and they’ll scan in the savings directly from your phone – no printing necessary.
Other Uses for Your Smart Phone
Don’t waste time on items you want to see before you buy. Use your smart phone to check the inventory of a specific merchant before you head off to the store; search for and send a text message or call the business to get further details. Use the GPS function to help navigate unfamiliar areas on your road to savings. Foursquare is an app that can help you find places to go and things to do without the hassle of doing a web search. Use it to get personalized recommendations when you walk into a store.
Any phone with an onboard camera can take advantage of quick response (QR) codes, the weird black and white squares found on many products. To utilize a QR code, you’ll need to install a free scanner app compatible with the type of phone and point the camera to scan for in-store sales, take you to a web page, video or place a call.
Organize your receipts by installing an app like Shoe Boxed. Make shopping trips with the kids less stressful with fun, educational game apps.
A smart phone is a technological marvel for organizing business and personal contact information, managing time and navigating from place to place. New ways to use your smart phone are constantly being introduced to streamline the way we live.