What to expect from mobile shopping

By Anne D’Innocenzio ,AP

NEW YORK — Shoppers buying on their phones this holiday season will see new ways stores are making it easier and faster as they try to lock in sales before people swipe to the next site.

“It’s not just a shopper’s tool,” said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst and director at Adobe Digital Insights, the research arm of Adobe Systems. “It’s now so embedded in our existence we don’t even think about the fact that we pulled out our phone and bought things.”

Mobile shopping accounted for US$4.61 billion in sales from Thanksgiving through Monday, according to Adobe Digital Insights. Some 54 percent of visits to retailers’ sites and 36 percent of sales for the five-day period came from phones and tablets.

Here are four ways smartphones are changing the way people shop — and how retailers are responding:

MORE IMPULSE BUYING Mobile shopping entices people to buy right when they’re thinking about it, Gaffney said, “It’s this sense of urgency.” She noted that retailers that had more mobile traffic enjoyed a 30 percent increase in online revenue.

Retailers need to make it easier to find items so shoppers don’t quickly move on.

“They want it fast,” said Peter Cobb, co-founder and executive vice president of eBags, which says mobile accounted for 43 percent of visits and 20 percent of sales for the five-day period. The handbags and luggage site now highlights the top five sales hits to save people from sorting through 90,000 products.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which has worked to improve its app including the browse feature, said 70 percent of Walmart.com traffic and 60 percent of orders Thursday and Friday were driven by mobile devices.

FOCUSED ON DEALS Even in an improving economy, shoppers are fixated on deals — and mobile phones make it easier to grab them.

Customers look to have spent nearly 3.5 percent less on average for the four-day weekend starting Thursday than a year ago, according to a survey conducted over the weekend by the National Retail Federation trade group. Much of the drop had to do with the heavy discounting shoppers demand. The NRF’s survey showed more than 36 percent of shoppers said everything they bought this past weekend was on sale, compared with 32.5 percent a year ago.

Retailers are shifting to a stream of discounts and alerts during the entire week via email and social media. Toys R Us is doing more flash sales, and eBags introduced a page called “Steals and Deals” highlighting items that are heavily discounted for a limited time.

Market Track, which monitored nearly 1,500 products online from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, says stores changed prices more often than last year, and more were lowered than raised.

Some 41 percent of prices shifted at least once, compared with 27 percent last year, said Traci Gregorski, senior vice president of marketing. About 16 percent changed more than once, compared with only 7 percent in 2015.