Retailers amplify social, mobile for Black Friday 2012

NEW YORK: Stores are streamlining their Black Friday strategies by integrating more social media and mobile features into their marcomms plans for the consumer shopping rush, said the National Retail Federation.

NEW YORK: Stores are streamlining their Black Friday strategies by integrating more social media and mobile features into their marcomms plans for the consumer shopping rush, said the National Retail Federation.

The trade association represents more than 9,000 retailers in the US. It has found that stores want to make holiday shopping easy for consumers this year by offering interactive social media programs and promotions, said Kathy Grannis, senior director of media relations at the NRF.

“What's most interesting this holiday season is that for the first time, retailers have made it very evident that they want to provide a seamless shopping experience for their customers,” she explained. “With that in mind, they're utilizing Twitter, Facebook, and even Pinterest to get the word out about their brands.”

Last month, the NRF's Shop.org division surveyed online retailers to see how the economy is changing their plans for the holidays. More than half (57%) said they will increase their use of Facebook; 40% will boost their use of Twitter; and 45% will utilize Pinterest more, said Grannis.

Another reason is that social media is more cost effective than other promotional options, and Grannis noted that e-retailers know “that's where shoppers want to find out about deals.” Mobile options are also growing, she added, because more companies are using in-store payments to help customers avoid long checkout lines. Interactive mobile apps or microsites with games are also an important part of retailers' Black Friday plans, Grannis explained, adding that some stores offer “wishlists” for children that are automatically emailed to their parents.

However, the challenge for retailers this year is that “there is still a lot of political and economic uncertainty,” said Grannis.

Nearly two-thirds of consumers the NRF polled early last month said the shaky economy and political ambiguity are impacting their spending plans. Grannis said retailers have to adjust their strategies to account for the economy by providing unique deals and programs, such as layaway offers, price-matching, exclusive partnerships with other brands, or same-day delivery for online ordering.

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