Tom Keighley

Smartphones to "influence" Christmas shopping

Christmas sales are set to be influenced by smartphone searches, analysis by Deloitte has shown.

The business advisory firm suggest £3.2bn of in-store Christmas sales will be influenced by smartphones, with another £330m of sales made directly through the devices.

Ian Geddes, UK head of retail at Deloitte, said: “We remain cautious on the long-term outlook for UK retail, but there are more reasons to be optimistic than pessimistic this Christmas. Consumer confidence has gradually improved over the course of the year and despite the recent increase in inflation, it is much lower than it was 12 months ago easing the pressure on households. Whilst it is not certain whether this will translate into higher spending, with consumers continuing to show a desire to save, we believe it will be enough to generate modest growth.

“However, whilst we forecast the value of retail sales to be in positive territory, once you account for inflation running at 2.5%, this equates to a fall in volume. Yet with retailers increasing their focus on stock control we would expect to see better use of strategic, targeted sale activity as opposed to the blanket application of discounts across stores seen in recent years.

“As food prices continue to increase, we would expect general merchandise to be flat at best and very possibly experience a slight fall as consumers decide to save the Christmas dinner. However, this hides a more complex story.

“Increasingly, we are seeing examples of certain retailers performing strongly and others weakly within the same sector. Shoppers are responding to those retailers that combine the right products with exceptional customer service across all channels, dynamic and exciting online and mobile sites and a brand that they want to be associated with and invest in.”

Mark Haviland, MD of Rakuten LinkShare commented: “Deloitte’s prediction that £330m of festive purchases will be made directly on smartphones this Christmas and a further £500m via tablets is great news for retailers that have developed a strong mobile offering.

“However, the m-commerce industry is not just about conversion – sales completed from a mobile or tablet – it’s about the full purchase journey. It’s great to see the industry is grasping this, with Deloitte predicting that £3.2 billion of sales will be influenced by smartphones this Christmas.

“The ways in which smartphones and tablets can influence a consumer’s decision to make a purchase are incredibly varied, ranging from innovative location-based services that link the online and offline world, to lifestyle sites that drive interest through dynamic content.

“By working with a CPA network (cost per acquisition), brands and retailers can ensure their content is reaching the right consumers, on the right device, at the right time. On top of this, tracking which of these actions result in a purchase is key, whether the final purchase is made in-store, online or on mobile. The days when online and in-store are competing against each other for sales should be considered over, as brands look to engage the multi-channel consumer.”

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