To turn taps on a smartphone into footsteps in a storefront, Chubbies, the direct-to-consumer brand best known for its short shorts, is spending more than it ever has before on ad spend for the holidays.

Retailers and consultants say it’s especially crucial this year for big-box retailers and DTC brands alike to bridge the gap between mobile purchases and store visits. This holiday season, 18 percent of all U.S. consumer spending is projected to be driven from a smartphone or a tablet, up threefold from last year, according to eMarketer. Still, brick-and-mortar storefronts are far from dead. Physical stores accounted for 84 percent of holiday sales last year, according to Garner L2.

So, Chubbies must seamlessly integrate brick-and-mortar and e-commerce sales teams to succeed, said Bill Friend, vp of Fluent Commerce, a consultant for companies such as Target and Nine West.

Like many of its apparel peers that cater to younger cohorts, Chubbies plans to spend a majority of its ad dollars on mobile social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and — the largest slice of its budget — Instagram. The increase of mobile marketing dollars seeks to not only bolster only purchases but also to drive customers into stores.

“We’re going to be doing a lot to push in-store traffic, and mobile appears to be the best vehicle for that,” said Tom Montgomery, the company’s chief marketing officer. “We have not done that before.”

Montgomery declined to comment on exact advertising figures, but he said the company’s mobile ad spending has “steadily” increased each year around the holidays. And this year, the company will spend more than it’s ever spent before on mobile, to the tune of 88 percent of its overall ad dollars, up from 80 percent two years ago.

Using Instagram influencers is designed to get customers into the store. Future placements, for instance, could feature a model who lives near a Chubbies outlet sporting a pair of short-shorts on Instagram, with the store geographically specified in the post’s location.

Chubbies’ priority is figuring out how to get customers to visit one its seven stores, where the value of average checkouts is much higher.

The stakes are increasingly higher for retailers to reach customers via mobile over the holidays. According to a report by marketing platform Nanigans, marketers spend a quarter of their ad budgets over Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend. Meanwhile, mobile ads in 2018 are expected to account for 34 percent of all U.S. ad spend, for the first time surpassing television ad dollars, also according to eMarketer.

“Having an integrated end-to-end scenario, where it’s not just combining online shopping and offline shopping, but it’s integrating mobile and social and all those things — it’s critical,” said Friend. 

As retailers look to rope customers into stores via mobile ads, Dallas Lawrence, svp and head of communications at programmatic advertising company OpenX, said the result will be better, more personal mobile ads that appeal to customers on an individual level.

“This is the early days,” said Lawrence. “I think this will be a wake-up call for holiday shopping. It will have significant impacts, and positive impacts, on the quality and relevance of advertising going forward.”

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