The Holidays are once again upon us in full force, meaning that the busiest shopping time of the year for ecommerce has hit! Merchants know the importance of a strong showing during this busy season.

Mobile commerce is a large component of the 2014 Holiday shopping season. According to a report from Internet Retailer, mobile shopping will account for over 33% of ecommerce sales.

Ecommerce merchants should be ready for the influx of mobile shoppers, or else they could jeopardize up to one-third of their Holiday sales. Fortunately, Apptive is here to help. Whether you are brand new to mobile commerce or a mobile aficionado, this guide will set you up for success this Holiday season!

Streamline Your Mobile Experience

The Holidays are fun and festive, but Holiday shopping can be less appealing than entering a cage with a rabid wolverine. Mobile shopping has been gaining popularity so rapidly because it is much easier to just pick up and order on your phone than it is to brave the wilds of the local mall. This advantage disappears immediately if your mobile experience sucks.

So how do you make your mobile presence not suck? There is actually a lot you can do, but at a base line there are two things that will at least establish you as a solid contender on mobile.

First thing’s first: make sure you have a mobile site. At a bare minimum, people need to see an established mobile presence when they navigate to your site through their device’s browser. Fortunately, modern ecommerce platforms realize the importance of the mobile web, and so most of them allow you to enable a mobile site by simply checking a box. Once you do, make sure that you actually visit the site on a mobile device (or ideally, several different ones). Make sure that the site is clear, illustrates your products well, and doesn’t in any way inhibit your customers’ path to purchase. If there are issues, contact your ecommerce platform ASAP and get it sorted out. Alternatively, if you find their mobile experience lacking, there are numerous third-party mobile site providers you can look into.

Second up: get a mobile app for your online store. The Apptive platform makes it quick and easy to get an app. Some people argue that mobile apps are extraneous when you have a mobile site, but that attitude is couched in a time where apps cost tens of thousands of dollars, thus making it hard to generate a good ROI. Now there is no reason to avoid getting an app. Customers who download your app give you the ability to reach them at any time with push notifications, promote deals, and take advantage in the latest native functionality of mobile devices. In short, a mobile app is the best way to engage with your customers, offering numerous options and functionality that the mobile web simply can’t provide.

Drum Up the Hype

Anticipation is a powerful thing, particularly around the Holiday season. Though it can occasionally seem like people are becoming jaded, in general they appreciate getting into the spirit. That means that if you want people to do their Holiday shopping through your store, you are going to have to build some excitement!

Mobile apps in particular offer a lot of opportunities to help generate interest in your products and events. Leading up to important Holiday events, you can send push notifications reminding your customers about the great deals they can expect. Mobile shoppers respond very well to images, so create some that showcase your products in festive ways.

A tangential but very valuable benefit to building this kind of anticipation through in-app activity is that it shows you have an interest in fostering an active mobile community. As mentioned above, the people who download your app are often your most loyal customers. When you release interesting content through your app they will feel like they are part of an exclusive club (and really, they are!) and will reward you by being responsive and making purchases through your app.

One small word of warning here though. When you deliver content directly to your customers through your app you will need to make sure that it is high quality, engaging and valuable for them. Don’t just send out repetitive messages or spammy content. At best your customers will turn off your push notifications. At worst they will uninstall your app and may avoid shopping with you in the future.

Capitalize on the Major Shopping Days

For better or worse, retailers and shoppers alike mark Black Friday as the beginning of the seasonal buying rush. It is also widely derided as a madhouse, and consumer frustration has increased as retailers push “Black Friday” back further and further in Thanksgiving. This year that practice has reached ridiculous levels, with many prominent leaders starting their deals at 6PM on Thursday. There has been tremendous pushback on this practice, with many customers going so far as to boycott those retailers that threaten to cut short a traditionally family oriented Holiday.

Fortunately, mobile commerce provides a way for retailers to take advantage of the buying fervor without angering their fans. Mobile-based Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals allow consumers to browse and buy from the comfort of their own home. Customers actually enjoy viewing deals on their mobile devices because it relieves the pressure of braving the crowds.

Again, the key here is offering tremendous value for customers buying on mobile. Part of the reason that people dive into the surge of Black Friday is fear of missing out on some spectacular offer. If your deals are not at least as good as those of physical retailers, you can forget it. The good news is that customers who have downloaded your app are much more likely to actually receive your deals, because push notifications allow you to send them right to their home screen. Those deals will cut through the clutter of promotions sent through email and social channels.

Of course, there are other, more advanced strategies that businesses can take advantage of as well. For instance, if you notice that a big-box retailer has a “door buster” item that you also sell, you can take advantage of the forced scarcity there. Often the chains will have fewer than a dozen of these hot items in stock, and people will be clamoring to get their hands on it. If you send a deal to customers during or shortly after the Black Friday heyday that features the same item, your fans will be very likely to buy it from you.

Final Thoughts and Holiday Cheers

The 2014 Holiday season will see the greatest increase in mobile sales yet. It is also important to remember that mobile commerce as a whole is continuing to grow at a rapid pace, so many of these Holiday strategies can be successfully incorporated into your campaigns year round!

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