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Retailers Who Put Mobile First this Holiday Season

Published on January 04, 2018  •  Martech Advisor

The data says it all – overwhelmingly, consumers chose to shop on mobile devices this holiday season, with mobile accounting for more than half of all web traffic. Find out which retailers prepared best and the tactics they used to draw in shoppers from their mobile devices according to Martin Berman, VP North America Remarketing, InMobi

Marketing strategies during the holiday season have evolved each year to drive foot traffic into stores, but it wasn’t until Cyber Monday began in 2005 that those strategies took a dramatic turn to include marketing online where consumers were just starting to spend part of their time browsing and shopping. This year marked the next drastic shift when mobile accounted for 61 percent of all web traffic to retail sites on Thanksgiving and 48 percent more orders on smartphones compared to last year.

Retailers who dominated the 2017 Black Friday weekend anticipated an uptick of mobile browsing and purchases throughout the weekend and proactively planned mobile-first marketing strategies.

In order for traditional retailers to stay competitive with online-only retailers (such as Amazon), they needed to leverage their best assets that differentiate them – a combination of physical stores coupled with online marketplaces. In 2017, Macy’s, Walmart and Home Depot placed special focus on updating their apps to capture attention and SEO of mobile users. As a result, Walmart ranked inside the top 10 for the keyword search, “Black Friday,” and Home Depot outperformed 11 other retailers in terms of mobile website experience.

Here are the top four retailers who proactively prioritized mobile this Black Friday weekend and what they did to succeed:


  • App Store Optimization (ASO): Macy’s invested in ASO to make updates to their description, screenshots, logos and version updates to capitalize on app store search traffic.
  • Customer Experience: The Macy’s app was revamped to act as a complementing tool for in-store experiences , connecting the customer and store across multiple channels.
  • Personalization: Macy’s app powers personalized recommendations in order to make discoverability easier for shoppers.
  • Omnichannel: Buy Online Pickup in Store (BOPS) option provides flexibility in the shopping experience.


  • Apple App Store SEO: Walmart tailored its SEO strategy for mobile, placing the app within the top 10 using the keyword “Black Friday.”
  • Flexible Shipping and Product Pickup: Walmart is offering online customers free two-day shipping on all orders over $35 until December 31, 2017 and additional discounts for picking up purchases from their local Walmart stores. Amazon has made two-day free shipping standard for E-Commerce, and Walmart has reactively matched this benefit to stay agile; the consumer benefits from this perk, and is incentivized to shop at
  • Online Engagement: Customers who downloaded the Walmart mobile app this year received a first look at upcoming deals.

Home Depot:

  • Mobile App & In-Store Integration: Customers can use the mobile app to check store inventory and view store maps, making it easier to navigate the in-store holiday crowds.
  • Promotions: Home Depot stayed competitive in-store and online with benefits to seasonal shoppers such as price matching, military discounts and special financing and rebates for certain orders only on Black Friday.
  • Enhanced Mobile Functionality: You can also comparison shop through the app, and purchase your items directly from your phone.


  • Exclusive Deals/Slow Release: Amazon began offering its holiday deals on Nov. 20, starting eight days of holiday deals with 10 "coveted" deals starting at midnight on Thanksgiving and up to 10 more on Black Friday.
  • Mobile Only Deals: The company also drove traffic to its mobile app this season by offering mobile-only deals not available on its website.
  • Multiple Touchpoints: Amazon increased customized incentives offered specifically through push notifications to keep customers going back to the app for more.

Mobile is a complicated ecosystem that requires constant effort, but most importantly the ability to connect your overall tech stack to your marketing efforts. Retailers whose marketing campaigns will be successful in the holiday shopping season next year, will take a cue from the retailers above who did it right this year. Currently, mobile technology and usage evolves month-to-month and even week-to-week, so the strategies that excelled in 2017 were vastly different than those in 2016 and will transform yet again in 2018.