Since Halloween ended, many of you have probably started listening to your Christmas playlist or heard them being played somewhere. With Thanksgiving and Black Friday approaching as well, it is officially peak holiday shopping season. We drive to the mall with our list of gift ideas, spend a few hours deciding what to get and then leave the mall. Here’s the catch – we don’t leave the mall with the gifts in our hand. Rather, we leave the mall with a plethora of order confirmation emails and exclusive discounts. In the day and age where we effectively want instant gratification and on-demand services, we somehow associate shopping malls as a showroom where our consumer habits no longer apply. This is due to the increased levels of mobile phone activity within the general population, coupled by advancements in applications that are increasingly easier to use yet still valuable. As a result, online spending is expected to exceed in-store for the first time during the holiday season.
A year ago, a study done by Euclid showed that only 8% of consumers were using a retailer’s app for their shopping journey. Fast forward one year and now 40% of smartphone users anticipate using a retailer’s app for their shopping journey. This is probably due to the apps being streamlined by third-party developers and retailers utilizing a mobile wallet strategy that is compatible with the apps.
Additionally, browser based apps also contribute to our shift from traditional shopping. One that you’ve probably heard of but hesitated to use is Ebates. Ebates is a company that gives you cash back for shopping through their affiliated stores. You go onto Ebates.com, search for the store you want to shop at, click on the “shop now” button. Ebates then redirects you to the retailer with their tracking tag and you can shop as you normally would. After you make your purchase, a percentage of the purchase shows up in your Ebates account. In addition to cash back, Ebates also offers a large variety of coupon codes that stack with their cash back rewards for double down discounts.
Furthermore, Ebates also provides a Chrome extension. Don’t want to spend too much time poaching deals on Ebates? No problem – you can search for stuff organically on Google Chrome and the Ebates extension will provide a notice for links eligible for cash back.
Another browser extension worth noting is Honey. Honey works behind the scenes while you are browsing to find coupons relevant to what you’re looking at. Their algorithm takes approximately 30 seconds to a minute to find the best coupon for your purchase instead of scouring RetailMeNot and other coupon code outlet. Honey also works alongside Ebates to supplement for listed deals that could be discounted further.
While this concept is great, the execution is a bit of a mixed bag. In my personal use of Honey, it only worked for me 20% of the time. Honey also provides cash back on purchases but unlike Ebates, you don’t know ahead of time how much you would be getting. Lastly, the concept would be a game changer if it was available on our smartphones. However, with the execution issues already present in their browser extension, Honey has ways to go before making a smartphone app.
These two browser extensions are only a part of a shift in consumer sales towards online purchases and deep discounts. Companies are increasingly spending more money on social media ads. But this trend has been going upwards since the advent of social media and brick and mortar stores have yet to disappear. However, I believe that brick and mortar retailers need to put greater emphasis in developing their omnichannel strategy to retain their physical presence. We’ve already been accustomed to pop-up shops and it’s expected to be more prevalent and tech-oriented. Brick and mortar locations can also rent out some of their warehouse storage space for small to mid-sized e-commerce websites that need extra storage for the holiday surge. This would be a good strategy to fill in the void left by what would’ve been in-store sales revenue in the past. Lastly, brick and mortar locations need to at least match (if not provide better deals) than their online channels to incentivize making in store purchases again. Best Buy recently spearheaded their Price Match Guarantee system where they will match all local competitors, including their online prices. Other retailers will have to think along these lines moving forward.
As you prepare for the holiday shopping season, be cognizant of the offers from brick and mortar and definitely give Ebates and Honey a shot if you aren’t already using it. You’ll at the very least become a smarter consumer for your efforts.