The holiday shopping season is upon us...

...and retailers are busy rolling out a range of data-driven strategies to optimize sales. After all, the November to December period is by far the largest shopping season of all, accounting for approximately 20 percent of all annual sales for retailers, according to the National Retail Foundation. And things are looking bright this year, with the NRF forecasting holiday sales to increase 4.1 percent in 2014, to $616.9 billion.

One especially promising space for the holiday shopping season is mobile, with IBM predicting record mobile shopping for 2014. eWeek reports that IBM expected mobile browsing to make up 48.2 percent of all online traffic over the Black Friday-Thanksgiving weekend window, an increase of 23 percent from 2013. Strong data-driven strategies are responsible for a good portion of this surge, from an expansion in digital couponing to improved promotional email click-through rates. Jay Henderson, director of strategy at IBM ExperienceOne breaks down this exciting shift, stating that, “Without question, this will be a strong holiday shopping season, supported by the power of big data and analytics, which are helping brands better understand their consumers and make crucial decisions in real-time.”

Also expected to experience a boost this holiday shopping season are gift cards, with the NRF’s Gift Card Spending Survey finding that total spending on gift cards will likely exceed $31 billion this year—that’s $172.74 per average gift card buyer as compared to $163.16 in 2013. USA Today recently took a closer look at this trend, noting in particular the rise of the e-gift card—which has a special appeal for the millennial demographic that is more apt to shop using mobile devices and mobile shopping applications. Smart retailers are tracking purchases made with e-gift cards and regular gift cards to understand consumer behavior related to spending. This data can be used for targeted marketing efforts and new customer acquisition later on.

Whether it’s leveraging your data to improve customer engagement through such methods as expanded gift card offerings, or unleashing the power of location-based data-driven insights to avoid stock-outs during the extremely busy and important sales period, a streamlined mobile data collection application is truly your company’s best friend.

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