Sara Reiner | Contributor
November 27, 2013

The Business Opportunity Behind Holiday Shopping and Black Friday Apps


Not to send everyone into a panic – but there are six less days in the holiday shopping season this year.  While that might not seem like a lot to the average person, it makes for a big difference in the world of retail.  In fact this short season has a large impact on when and how we will be shopping this year. 

Here at Mashery, we are always focused on helping leverage the opportunities that apps present to help retailers capture share-of-wallet. Retailers have stepped up the game and started their Black Friday sales well before the 29th. Why the shift?  According to a survey held by Nielson, 46 percent of consumers said they would shop online on Cyber Monday, up from 30 percent a year ago. In comparison, only 13 percent of respondents said they would shop at physical stores on Black Friday.

So how will apps play into this?  Shoppers are savvier than ever and online shopping has evolved in recent years.  People are using apps on their smartphones to do research and ferret out the best deals.  No need to sit down at the computer clicking through site after site or go from store to store to get the best price.  With just a touch of a screen, coupons can be downloaded, specials captured and gifts purchased.  Retailers and developers are making it quicker and easier to make purchasing decision via mobile computing.  Why stand in line outside on Thanksgiving Day for a door buster sale when customers can get deals sooner in the comfort of their homes?

There is a business opportunity behind some of these apps. There are countless of apps out there, but certain types of apps for shoppers to consider when making their purchases include:

Big Box Retailer Apps: People are brand junkies and like to stay loyal to stores in which they are most familiar.  Big box stores like Best Buy build their own apps to push out sales and discounts to loyal customers and help fight showrooming.   Already the electronic superstore is making discounts available to their mobile customers earlier than in-store discount offers. This allows any retailer to create the experience consumers have come to expect in the “whenever, wherever” mobile commerce economy .

Online Retailing Apps:  Companies like Postmates commonly ofter 1-day specials on their retail delivery services. While, nothing has been announced yet, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a promotion around letting someone else stand in line for deals.

Price Comparison Apps:  The current trend of last minute travel apps like Hotel Tonight and Expedia  are focused on delivering the most competitive price to the flexible traveler.  Expedia has a last minute travel feature and also powers Room 77,  which lets travelers choose rooms according to bed type, elevator proximity or square footage. It also provides a Google Earth-powered virtual “Room View” so people can double check the ambiance before making a purchase.

Outside of the last minute travel world there are a number of apps focused solely on price checking.  Amazon has its Price Check app which allows shoppers to compare sale items from big box stores to what is offered on its site. FatWallet is yet another price comparison app that helps users compare prices and deals from multiple retailers.

No doubt there are countless more apps to help shoppers these next few weeks.  They will be sophisticated and easy to use – allowing for shoppers to be smart in their purchase.  No matter what ends up happening this year, one thing is very apparent, shoppers need to keep those phones charged all season long.  It will really be their most important accessory for the holidays.