September 6, 2011, 3:41 PM

Mobile to comprise 15% of Black Friday searches

Google projects 44% of last-minute gift and store location searches will be mobile in December.

Lead Photo

Holiday shoppers are expected to augment their purchasing strategies with mobile devices this season.

In a sign consumers will use their mobile phones more for shopping this holiday season, Google Inc. projects that 15% of all searches made on Nov. 25, the Friday after Thanksgiving, will come from mobile devices. Additionally, Google forecasts that 44% of all December searches for last-minute gifts and store locations will be mobile.

In 2010, 5.6% of consumers used a mobile device to visit a retailer’s web site on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, said Coremetrics, a web analytics technology provider that is part of IBM.

Google’s prediction sounds about right, says Nikki Baird, managing partner at Retail Systems Research LLC. “The more information that retailers make available, the more consumers are going to use it,” Baird says. Given retailer emphasis on time-sensitive sales or limited quantities around Thanksgiving, consumers increasingly will incorporate mobile devices into their Black Friday purchasing strategies, she says, “likely even while standing in line to get in a store or once they’re at the shelf.”

Retailers should adapt to this shift in consumer shopping patterns by preparing a localized search strategy, Baird suggests. “Search management tools are getting more sophisticated now, and local-oriented search terms tend to be much cheaper than general terms,” she says. “Retailers have a better chance of nabbing a shopper searching for ‘Xbox Denver’ than competing for the term ‘Xbox’ universally.”

The landing page for that localized search also should be quick to load on a smartphone, Baird says. That entails a focus on the basics, such as product information without a lot of images, the retailer’s phone number and a map showing the store location, she explains.

Retailers also should ensure their sites render well on mobile devices, says Lauren Freedman, president of The E-tailing Group, a research and consulting firm. If a consumer can’t view the site well, she can’t take advantage of it, Freedman says. That entails making hot-selling items easy to find on the mobile site. “Have ways to get consumers quickly into the site with a ton of drill-down,” Freedman says.

Retailers also increase sales by including last-minute gift ideas, like gift cards or a sale, into the mobile site, she says. And retailers should make the store locator easy to find and use, Freedman adds.

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