I dread holiday shopping because every year I find myself fighting crowds and standing in long lines trying to finish up my last minute shopping. I go from store to store searching for the perfect gifts and by the time I am done I am tired and aggravated.
I recently interviewed PayPal Payments Expert Jennifer Hakes and she shared with me some tips on how I can avoid this in the future. I thought I'd share what I learned because from the looks of the mall parking lot and the looks on peoples faces I know I am not the only one experiencing the hassles of last minute shopping.
Me: Last-minute shopping can be such a hassle, how can we be more efficient?
Jennifer: There are a lot of different ways we can be more efficient with our last-minute shopping. I know, for me, every minute counts. I have 2 kids and a busy job. When I am at home, I am multi-tasking all of the time. The first thing I do to get in all of my last-minute shopping is I sit on my couch, I throw my tablet on my lap, I keep up with my work email, and in-between that I look for some gifts for my kids. The other way I do it is, when I have to go to the store, I make sure that I’m looking for opportunities to make my life easier. The PayPal app has a couple of really great features that make shopping easier – last-minute style. The first one is Order Ahead. I know that when I have to go to the mall, my other job is to pick up food for my kids on my way back. So, I go to the mall, I grab my gift, and then I hit the Order Ahead feature on the app. I order from the menu, get to the restaurant, I grab the food, and I’m out of there. The other thing that I do is save offers to my Mobile Wallet. Within the app we have hundreds of thousands of merchants. You simply click on the button that has a coupon clip on it, you save the offer to your app, and I never have to dig into my messy coupon drawer again. My offer is always with me, so I can take advantage of it while I’m at the store.
Me: Long lines are a huge pain, why do you think long holiday lines will end in the next 5 years?
Jennifer: The features that I mentioned in the app are examples of the things that merchants and technology companies are doing to make the consumer experience easier at the point of sale. What I mean by that is they don’t want you to be hassled, they want you to have a great experience because they want you to come back. There are tools and technologies, like I mentioned with the Offers, for example. So, instead of me digging through my purse looking for the clipped-out coupon, all I have to do is set my button to say automatically apply when I’m at the store, it does it and boom – I have $10 off at Toys“R”Us. I think those kind of opportunities that technology is bringing to the consumer experience – making it so easy that the consumer doesn’t even have to think about it, and making it so obvious that the merchant wants more and more really reduces the friction at the point of sale. So, what that means is that there will be no more lines! You’ll be able to skip the line, you’ll be able to move faster through the line and have a lot better shopping experience.
Me: Mobile shopping has really taken off, what do we need to know?
Jennifer: Well, I don’t know if you knew this, but it is the shortest shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas in the last decade. What that means is: the mobile phone, which is always with you, is going to be a tool that is going to help you get your last-minute shopping done faster. One of the trends that I’m seeing is that online commerce couldn’t be bigger. So what that means is that more and more people are turning to their laptops or their phones to shop.
Me: The holidays aren’t just about getting gifts, but giving them. Can you tell us what trends you’re seeing around charitable giving this holiday season?
Jennifer: Well I don’t know if you know this but, the paper check is still the most popular way to give to your favorite cause. So, obviously, on the other side of the coin, that means that your favorite charity is spending too much money on administration costs. So we think it’s a good time to shine a light on mobile and digital giving – it’s so much easier than writing that paper check. And now through the end of the year we’re donating $5.52, which is the cost of 12 stamps, to every donation you make via StampOutChecks.com. It’s a great way to give to your favorite cause this holiday season.