The growing consumerism of our society is always a hot topic this time of year. Discussions about whether or not retailers should open on Thanksgiving to the monitoring of 'Christmas Creep' by various blogs and websites can be seen everywhere.
However what gets lost in the shuffle is the fundamental question involved - what do consumers want? And based upon their behavior and the already strong start to the holiday retail season- the answer appears to be they want to start shopping.
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), more than 40% of holiday shoppers start to buy gifts before Halloween. A recent study shows that Millennials tend to shop earlier in the holiday season than their generational counterparts. Not only are they more accepting of this trend, a small but growing percentage of the people in that age group actually like early holiday merchandise. It helps them spread out their spending, avoid holiday crowds and the stress of last-minute shopping.
So now that we know that consumers want to buy, we are starting to see how they want to pay. The recent release of Apple Pay, the mobile payment service available on the iPhone 6, gives us a window into how consumers will make their purchases. In the first three weeks of launch, Whole Foods is reporting that 1% of all transactions at its stores utilized Apple Pay.
Apple Pay is just one mobile payment option. Shoppers also have access to Google Wallet, and next year CurrentC will come online.
It is vital to retailers and small businesses to recognize the fact that these shoppers are out there. They need to vie for attention and utilize all the tools at their disposal to increase market share. That means embracing the trend toward quicker, and in some cases more secure, mobile payment options.
In these heady days of the DIY app builder, which makes it possible for anyone, regardless of their technological expertise, to design, create, and publish mobile apps, there is little excuse for small business not being involved in the mobile space.
Mobile site traffic reached 38.2% in March 2014, more than double the percentage in March 2012. IBM estimates that 20% of site sales and more than 43% of site traffic will come from mobile devices in November 2014.
This is where consumers are finding and interacting with your brand.
In as little as 30 minutes, a small retailer, independent label or publisher, or local restaurant can be up-and-running in the mobile game, accepting orders and processing payments through mobile apps.
The shoppers are out there, in full force, and they are enthusiastically interacting with businesses that cater to the mobile generation. The impulse-buying mobile Millennials are out there and they are looking at their smartphones right now. Can they find you in time for the holiday season?
Scott Hirsch is CEO of Appsbar, a free mobile app building platform.