Retailers Take Black Friday Frenzy Mobile

Cyber Monday, Black Friday, Mobile Monday, Cyber Friday, Mobile Thursday… Whatever label you append to the major shopping frenzy around Thanksgiving this year, it’s clear that retailers are bullish on the potential of mobile, with many promoting mobile-specific offers this weekend as users hit the stores.

Like many activities, mobile devices are shifting the experience. According to research by ad network InMobi, nearly 60 million users will shop on their phones this Friday and Monday, and around 20 million intend to make purchases directly from their handset. Research from IBM Coremetrics also predicts traffic to retailers’ websites will more than double this Thanksgiving weekend compared to last, suggesting retailers’ optimism and investment in the channel could be well placed.

The holiday season is make-or-break time for retailers. Retailers are forecast to take in $465.6 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.

That’s not to say mobile commerce will replace the retail madness that is Black Friday, when throngs of shoppers show up at ungodly hours to rush through stores in the hopes of finding bargains on everything from electronics to toys. In fact, some retailers are taking cues from the offline experience in their mobile approaches. Members-only online fashion retailer Gilt Groupe will begin promoting exclusive deals through its mobile properties from 6am Friday morning. According to the company’s president Andy Page, it hopes to poach in-store shoppers as they line up outside retailers across the country. “We haven’t had the ability to compete effectively with Black Friday, and now we do,” he told the New York Times.

Amazon, meanwhile, is also encouraging users to make the most of its mobile services while they’re visiting competitors’ stores. “Shoppers who do decide to brave the crowds and the long lines in physical retail stores on Friday should use the Price Check by Amazon app in order to make sure they’re truly getting a good deal,” a press release issued by the firm this week stated. The online retail giant also has a dedicated Black Friday deals destination on its site and says it will be adjusting its prices in real-time to meet competing prices.

Physical retailers have some mobile tactics of their own, though, in attempts to counter ambushes from their online counterparts. Walgreens has added scannable coupons to its mobile applications, for example, while Toys R Us plans to offer mobile users further reduced prices in order to match online deals.

According to InMobi’s research, more than twice as many users intend to use mobile devices to compare prices this weekend compared to last Thanksgiving, and almost a third say they’re likely to use a mobile device when making a purchase decision. The growth in mobile shopping will ultimately benefit consumers as well as retailers, the company said. “Shoppers price check products in-store, putting added pressure on brick-and-mortar retailers to remain competitive. As a consequence, we expect some great deals this holiday as there is increased competition among retailers on the high street,” concluded the firm’s North American head, Anne Frisbie.

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