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Couch Commerce

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Here in Redaville, we’re pretty traditional when it comes to celebrating Thanksgiving. The turkey will be in the oven shortly after the Macy’s parade kicks off on Broadway; sweet potatoes, sausage stuffing, string beans and the rest of the fixings will be served along with pumpkin, pecan and apple pies. The house will be chock-full of family, and football play-by-play will be the soundtrack of the day.

And, if retail experts’ predictions are on the mark, a few of us will waddle to the sofa after the big meal with our smartphone or tablet in hand to get an early jump on holiday shopping. PayPal executives are predicting that the first mobile shopping spike of the holiday season will take place right after Thanksgiving dinner, starting a new holiday tradition dubbed “couch commerce.”

The findings of a recent mobile shopping survey reveal that they may be on to something. Almost half of respondents (46 percent) said they plan to make holiday purchases with a mobile device this year. More than 60 percent of mobile buyers will make purchases at home — and more than one-third (35 percent) of those mobile purchases are spontaneous.

Google executives expect 44 percent of total searches for last-minute gifts and store locator terms to come from mobile devices, and they found that one-third of mobile shoppers plan to start their shopping before Thanksgiving.

While there’s no telling if shoppers will be itching to press the buy button in their tryptophan-induced state, it’s fair to assume that they’ll be doing a bit of browsing and price comparison — and that many smartphone users will log in to Facebook to send their friends good wishes. There’s no predicting how they might react if retailers they “like” are savvy enough to serve up some blockbuster deals.

STORES’ Mobile Report (page 20) makes it clear that shoppers are comfortable using mobile devices to interact with retailers. Actual buying trails m-commerce interaction, but it’s clear that shoppers want a dialogue with retailers. They expect merchants to have a mobile website and they expect information about promotions, store locations and the like to literally be at their fingertips.

Customers are in charge; they’re going to shop when it’s convenient for them, and you can bet they’re going to search for the best deal. The challenge for retailers is one they’ve faced for several years now: Ensuring that however shoppers choose to interact with your brand — in your store, on your website or from their couch via a mobile device — you recognize them and deliver an experience worthy of your brand and their business.