Vende Buzz: ‘Tis The Season for Shopping – From Your Favorite Mobile Device

by Paul Slack
  |  December 1, 2016  |  
December 1, 2016


The line between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is starting to blur, and it’s not just all that wine you enjoyed during Thanksgiving dinner.

New data from Adobe Digital and others show record-breaking online sales for the start of the 2016 holiday shopping season as fewer people lined up to visit real-world stores.

But the real headline? For the first time, sales on mobile devices blew past the $1 billion mark.

As we’ve mentioned before, smartphones and tablets are now major players in the race to rack up online sales. This latest holiday shopping data offers more evidence that marketers have to zero in on the digital shopping experience – especially for mobile – if they want every season to be truly merry and bright.

The latest data points from the weekend:

  • Adobe Digital reports a record $3.34 billion in digital sales on the biggest day for in-store holiday shopping, Black Friday. That’s a staggering 21-percent jump from last year.
  • So much for fears that more online sales on Thanksgiving and Black Friday would cannibalize Cyber Monday; Adobe estimates $3.39 billion in online sales for the day. That’s up 9.4 percent over last year and another record for what’s traditionally the first day of Internet-based shopping.
  • That Black Friday number included $1.2 billion from mobile devices, a 33-percent increase over 2015.
  • Walmart said 70-percent of the retail giant’s Thanksgiving website traffic and 60-percent of its Black Friday orders came from mobile devices. Target reported similar numbers.
  • More than half of retail website visits on Friday were done on mobile devices, with 47-percent coming from smartphones. When it comes to actual sales, Adobe estimates a record $770 million was spent from smartphones and tablets on Thanksgiving alone. Overall, 40-percent of purchases were on mobile, with 29-percent made on smartphones and 11-percent on tablets.
  • The National Retail Federation says 108 million people took advantage of Black Friday deals online vs. 99 million visiting brick-and-mortar stores. That’s a 10 percent drop for in-store sales over last year, the second year of declines in this category.

It’s not exactly breaking news that e-commerce has transformed the shopping experience.

And the impact of m-commerce has been studied for the last few holiday shopping cycles. But this is the first time that retail industry experts have seen the scales tipped this much in favor of smartphone-using shoppers during the industry’s most important business period.

Whether you want to credit it to device saturation, shifting more brick-and-mortar-style “doorbuster” deals to the online space or the fact that an extremely divisive presidential election is now behind us, there’s no denying the role that online browsing and shopping now plays at this busy time of the year.

The more that mobile devices are used, the more data points we can glean from them that might help marketing professionals. For example, TechCrunch reports that despite the growth of smartphone usage over the holiday, conversions from smartphones is lower than tablets and desktops. All three mobile categories saw increases, but smartphone conversions rose 1.9-percent vs. tablets (a 3.7-percent increase) and desktops (4-percent).

This particular data point hammers home the importance of a mobile-friendly website that’s optimized for easy navigation and clearly defined calls to action, whether it’s a search for more product/service information or the site’s shopping cart section.

Another nugget of mobile-based information to mine from the weekend:

More money was spent buying things on Apple-based products than those using Android software. The average order on an iOS device was $144 compared to $136 on Android-powered devices, according to Adobe Digital.

This may have to do with the reputation of the open-source Android software as being less secure than iOS, even though both operating systems have been targeted by malware. But it may signal an opportunity to educate customers on what a business is doing to guarantee the most secure experience it can for shoppers. After all, it’s been a rough 2-3 years in the cybersecurity space (hello WikiLeaks), yet this data shows that people are still willing to trust m-commerce with their holiday dollars. Even Target, which suffered a major hacking incident over the 2013 holiday shopping season, saw its web traffic and sales rise during the weekend.

At least one website, MediaLife Magazine, has questioned whether Black Friday still matters in a mobile-centric world filled with Snapchat-lovin’ millennials. The NRF still expects a lot of real world shopping this holiday season, but if marketers want to go where the customer (and the money) is, they need to think more about shoppers preferring to navigate a smartphone app or mobile-optimized website than the parking lot at their neighborhood mall.

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