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M-commerce Primed for Big Holiday Season

More firms are featuring promotions geared for shopping using apps for smartphones and tablets this year.

Thursday, 5:23 P.M.

That might be the witching hour for when mobile shoppers start their searches for holiday deals.

That’s the time that eBay’s research shows consumers are done with their dinner, have visited with family, and are ready to hit their mobile devices for a change of pace and some serious shopping. In the company’s poll of its shoppers, 63 percent of respondents said “holiday sales should start after dinner and 35 percent worry about missing out on deals on Thanksgiving day.”

On Black Friday last year, the company noted that U.S. shoppers purchased 2.5 times as many items via eBay mobile versus their shopping pattern on Black Friday in 2010.

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“This will be the first real mobile-enhanced holiday season. We saw the beginning of it last year,” said Wendy Liebmann, chief executive officer of WSL/Strategic Retail. “In general, we’re seeing mobile becoming the preferred choice for most people.”

One reason she cited is that shoppers have had enough experience over the last year to become comfortable using their mobile devices as an everyday tool for more than just texting. According to new research her firm conducted, 47 percent of women were using a smartphone last year to do some online shopping, up 20 points from 2010.

Ted Vaughan, a partner in the retail and consumer products practice group at BDO USA, said, “Mobile [applications] are moving online shopping into a new phase.”

According to Vaughan, up to 30 percent of retailers are using mobile apps to highlight promotions to drive traffic to the stores and online, as well as buy directly using the app. He also noted BFAds.net, which created an app just for Black Friday deals for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. The app lets users plan their Black Friday “trip.” The company, whose app is free, this year released one for Android users as well.

So what is on tap from e-commerce sites for Thanksgiving Thursday through Cyber Monday for their mobile specials?

EBay is planning on deals morning, noon and night starting Thanksgiving evening, with as many as 60 appearing at any given time. The deals are refreshed multiple times during the day, offer up to 80 percent off per listing and are sent with free shipping through Cyber Monday. A user can open the core eBay app and can access the mobile-only deals via the banner that will appear on the screen. Shoppers can also use eBay’s RedLaser app to scan barcodes on favorite products to find out where to find the best prices on eBay and other sites.

The company’s goal has been to make a bigger push into mobile because that’s where it’s seen the most growth as far as shopping activity. A spokeswoman for eBay said mobile-only dollars transacted rose more than 200 percent in the third quarter of 2012 compared with the same year-ago period, and through the first nine months of 2012, more than 1.8 million new users made their first eBay purchases on mobile. The company said in the third quarter alone, more than 800,000 new users made their first eBay purchases via mobile.

RELATED STORY: Holiday Season Begins With Nonstop Deals >>

At HSN, Jill Braff, executive vice president for digital commerce, said the firm is launching its interactive gift guide this week, specifically for tablet technology.

Braff said “over 20 percent of HSN’s digital sales are via mobile that is evenly split between smartphones and tablets.” The company is expecting a spike in tablet and smartphone traffic.

HSN is also making it easier for consumers to shop, sharing the same shopping cart across all platforms. In addition, the interactive component allows one to take a quiz, which then loads up options for gift buys based on those answers.

Shopping deals include best gift ideas for the season, special deals for Thanksgiving starting on Wednesday and an expansion of its FlexPay payment program for shoppers wanting the layaway experience. Deals that will be for a limited time or have limited quantities available will feature a countdown clock, while others will say digital only or one-day only.

 

Over at social shopping platform Lyst.com, which allows users to create wish lists that can be shared with family and friends, more than 1 million monthly visitors can shop over 500 brands and retailers on the site. Having launched in December, Lyst.com allows users to follow a brand, retailer or influencer, and receive an aggregated feed of items.

According to Chris Morton, cofounder and ceo, the site has driven more than $1 million in digital sales through the platform for its most active branded and retail partners. For holiday, users can create shoppable gift guides to share for ideas, and the site plans to add new branded partners, such as Giorgio Armani and Salvatore Ferragamo. He said the site’s mobile users are evenly split between smartphones and tablets. The demographics of its users in general are females between the ages of 21 and 39, who live primarily in New York, Los Angeles and London and spend between $400 and $500 a month on fashion online and offline.

Rue La La has launched its new Gift Center for the holidays, a curated selection of gift items. Using the private-sale model, the sales will be for a limited time. A spokeswoman said the company, which in 2011 saw mobile accounting for less than 5 percent of its sales, expects that in the fourth quarter of 2012, more than 50 percent of its sales will be through mobile devices.

Stylitics, a virtual closet platform and iPhone app, rolled out on Monday its Featured Closets to showcase actual items owned by style insiders, designers and celebrities. Users can access the nonresale virtual closet to create a wish list or click on a link to a retailer to buy the look. The app will feature select items from the tastemakers’ closets for Black Friday that are available for sale in the stores via the site’s affiliate link provider, RewardStyle.