CEO Sharon Price John says Build-A-Bear’s old e-commerce system is a big reason for disappointing online sales in December.
And the comparison shopping engine says mobile shopping sessions rose 460% over last year.
Many consumers are finding a new comparison shopping companion this holiday season: their mobile phones. TheFind, a comparison shopping engine, says 25% of its traffic this weekend came from mobile devices. That’s up 10 percentage points from 15% of all shopping visits for Thanksgiving weekend in 2009.
TheFind also says its total number of mobile shopping sessions increased 460% from Thanksgiving weekend last year. TheFind offers a mobile site as well as apps for mobile devices using Google Inc.’s Android operating platform and for Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPod Touch devices.
“In-store comparison shopping using smartphones is showing incredible growth, and progressive retailers are adjusting their strategies to account for a savvier consumer,” says Siva Kumar, CEO of TheFind. He says TheFind also is working with retailers including Best Buy to show relevant mobile ads to shoppers within its apps.
Nearly half the consumers who have downloaded TheFind’s apps are using the bar code scanner to scan a bar code of an item and search for prices across the web, the company reports. The apps also let consumers search for products via text.
The items most frequently scanned in stores include electronics and video games, TheFind says. Samsung 32-inch LCD TVs, iPhones and iPads, and the “Call of Duty: Black Ops” video game were the most commonly scanned items. For mobile text search, parkas, jackets, dresses, hats, jewelry and shoes led the way.
When it comes to the most popular mobile devices, TheFind says 300% more consumers use its iPhone app than its Android app. And, while it does not have an app for the BlackBerry, visitors using BlackBerrys to access the TheFind’s mobile site fell 11% compared with Thanksgiving weekend last year.
TheFind designed its mobile apps to bridge online and offline comparison shopping. For example, shoppers who download TheFind’s iPhone or Android apps can use their Facebook log-ins through a tool called Facebook Connect to automatically create a free account with TheFind that helps them keep track of their searches, items they have saved, and preferences for specific brands and stores. Consumers can then access their accounts on both TheFind.com and via the mobile app, enabling them to retrieve saved items from their PCs or from mobile devices while in a store.
“To date, standalone mobile shopping apps have fallen short because they cannot connect consumers’ in-store shopping to consumers’ online shopping activity, either before or after they visit a store,” Kumar says. “TheFind Mobile works on the simple premise that a mobile app has more utility when it can scan or search for prices in every store and also be integrated with the way people shop from their homes—online.”
TheFind.com says the most popular times for mobile searches are after normal office hours during the week and on the weekends. The highest PC traffic period is Monday mornings at 9 a.m.