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Nearly 40% of Consumers Will Pay for In-Store Holidays Purchases With Their Phones

Retail’s gearing up for the annual onslaught of holiday shoppers—and this year, consumers could be spending more, and relying on their phones to buy the best deals.

According to a survey conducted by “buy now, pay later” tech company Afterpay, 20 percent of consumers are expecting to spend more in 2019 than they did last year.

How those consumers spend their money will decide the winners and losers of the holiday season and, according to Afterpay, 57 percent of that holiday shopping will also occur online.

Through a variety of deals and discounts, online retailers have already begun to roll out their strategies—but it’s fair to say some will be more effective than others.

“When it comes to what to buy, U.S. consumers are most influenced by special offers, friends and family, online advertising, and social media (excluding influencers),” Afterpay said. “The most compelling motivations to purchase are price discounts, free shipping and buy-one-get-one offers. Top shopping days are Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the second Monday in December.”

Shipping and logistics are increasingly important to shoppers who have their time stretched thin by obligations and holiday plans. Another survey of 1,000 U.S. shoppers conducted by software and services firm SAP discovered that 63 percent of consumers are more likely to use buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) services.

While the convenience of shopping online is useful throughout the year, last-minute shoppers are likely to utilize the more certain options available to them as time crunches down. That may also be one of the reasons 42 percent of consumers in the SAP survey said they would be more likely to buy a holiday gift from a DTC brand that operated a physical location nearby.

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“While these trends are particularly top of mind for consumers during the 2019 winter holidays, these expectations don’t end when the lights are taken down and the displays are put back into storage,” SAP Customer Experience warned in a blog post. “They’re strong indicators of what consumers will come to expect throughout the year to come, which is vital for retailers who are already preparing for 2020.”

However, ease of shopping is still top-of-mind for most consumers and The NPD Group reported that 25 percent of online shoppers are planning on using their smartphones to search out and gather gifts this year, up from 19 percent two years ago. Not only that, smartphone shoppers are more likely than other groups to use BOPIS services.

“The consumer’s adoption of mobile shopping can lead them to the store, where most impulse spending takes place,” Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor with The NPD Group, said. “This further demonstrates the importance of a seamless retail approach in keeping up with today’s retail environment, especially during the competitive holiday shopping season.”

Shopping on a smartphone directly isn’t the only way to interact with mobile shoppers this year, however. NPD said that 22 percent of those polled also used their mobile devices to pay for purchases in-store last year while 39 percent said they plan to use similar apps more this holiday season.

“Larger screen, desk-based options (laptops and desktops) meet the consumer’s needs to navigate and comparison shop today’s robust product assortments,” Stephen Baker, vice president and industry advisor for The NPD Group, added. “However, mobile shopping continues to gain traction as phone screens expand and retailer apps become more adept at offering the quick transaction experience consumers are looking for, wherever they are.”