Michael Jones

As holiday shopping starts in full swing, marketers need to understand the new mobile paradigm. Michael Jones, senior vice president of retail and brand solutions at Retailmenot Inc., outlined this model with piles of statistics.

To put mobile into perspective, he acknowledged that the majority of commerce continues to be conducted in physical stores. In 2015, per eMarketer Commerce Snapshot, in-store retail sales totaled $4.79 trillion, while e-commerce sales accounted for $340.61 billion, or 7.1 percent of sales, and m-commerce reached $74.93 billion, or 1.6 percent. Part of the appeal of shopping in brick-and-mortar stores is the experience, he said.

Still, smartphones are becoming the number-one screen for consumers. Retailmenot, a digital coupon company based in Austin, Texas, commissioned Forrester Consulting last June to survey the use of smartphones, tablets and desktop and laptop computers in the home. The mobile phone surpassed the tablet and the computer as the device of choice to access the Internet in the living room and bedroom, with about a 30-point lead in each area.

In addition, the majority of consumers start their shopping journey on a smartphone, and a 40-percent higher conversion rate is recorded among those who use a mobile device during that journey. There’s also a risk of losing traction — as much as 30 percent — when consumers switch between devices. As to the Web sites where consumers start shopping via smartphones, Amazon, Google and eBay, where Jones previously ran the North American business, ranked in the top three in a study by Mizuho Securities. Following them were Wal-Mart, Retailmenot and Target. For companies that don’t have the scale or recognition of the retail giants, Jones assured them that 86 percent of consumers are likely to discover new products and brands on their phones.

Despite consumers’ ease and preference for mobile, advertisers aren’t ready yet for the revolution of mobile marketing and shopping. Mary Meeker, an Internet expert and venture capitalist with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, said that in the $50 billion market for Web ads, only 8 percent, or $13 billion, is spent on mobile ads, although consumers spent 24 percent of their time on mobile channels.

The decision to create an app depends on a brand’s purpose and customer base. The Container Store chose not to do so because its customers don’t shop there that often. On the other hand, Under Armour spent $700 million on a trio of apps, and a Retailmenot app drove in-store sales by 138 percent at Aéropostale, Jones said.

To stand out from the crowd, Jones said marketers can create their own moments during the holiday shopping season. For instance, in a forecast of the top shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas of this year, he said mobile apps will fare best on Nov. 27, or Black Friday, and desktop shopping will be most popular on Nov. 30, or Cyber Monday. Over the past couple of years, the shopping season is growing beyond Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The period between the Monday before Thanksgiving through Thanksgiving has seen year-over-year growth since 2012. Moreover, following Cyber Monday, the Tuesday through Friday and Saturday through Tuesday have seen an uptick. “Not all holidays are created equal,” Jones said.