As retailers prepare for one of the busiest weekends of the year, Friday 24th November (Black Friday), experts predict this year is set to be the busiest on record after 2016 saw a 12.2% increase on the £1.1bn spent on the same day in 2015.
Figures released in a report from Textlocal, one of the UK's leading SMS platforms, reveal that online sales are set to dominate after last year's figures showed a 24.9% year-on-year increase in the amount spent online, while retailers that incorporate mobile marketing into their strategy are also expected to benefit as sales on mobiles have increased by 36% in 2015, 51% in 2016 and as Britain boasts nearly 80m active mobile phones in circulation for the first time.
The growing importance of mobile is supported by figures from Google that show that 70% of customers purchasing in-store used their smart phones for research before the purchase and that mobiles have overtaken desktops and tablets as devices used for e-commerce, now accounting for 60% of all e-commerce visits. Despite these findings, only 50% of businesses surveyed are currently using SMS marketing as part of their marketing strategies.
Jason Palgrave-Jones, Managing Director of Textlocal, comments: "For almost 7 years Black Friday sales have been an integral part of the Christmas shopping season for both businesses and consumers. This year mobile is set to play an increasingly important role in the consumer experience as retailers use SMS to entice people to shop through targeted offers right through to managing delivery slots via their smartphones."
SMS is also expected to be used by retailers to increase loyalty, boost online sales by encouraging more footfall instore as well as to improve customer service by offering greater detail to the delivery slots or the ability to check stock levels. The medium is increasingly popular after Textlocal's research shows that SMS messaging has a 98% open rate, with 90% being read within three minutes.
A white paper from Textlocal also illustrates how 37.2 million consumers have opted in to use SMS and mobile communications as their preferred choice for receiving notifications from businesses. This number is predicted to rise to 48.7 million in 2020, making SMS the fastest growing marketing channel in the UK.
Jason Palgrave-Jones continues: "No retailer wants to go back to the chaos seen two years ago on Black Friday when consumers were fighting in stores for bargains and websites crashed. Having an effective mobile strategy in place can help grow sales, build loyalty with customers and enhance their experience through improved communications."