Mobile makes big gains over Thanksgiving weekend

November 28, 2016 02:43 PM

Mobile shopping surged throughout the Thanksgiving weekend according to data from Adobe Inc. and payment processor PayPal Holdings Inc.

Mobile had its biggest day ever on Black Friday, when mobile sales reached $1.2 billion the day after Thanksgiving, up 33% year over year, according to the Adobe Digital Insights unit of marketing and analytics software provider Adobe.

Between Thanksgiving and Sunday, Nov. 24-27, mobile devices accounted for 56% of visits to retailers’ websites and 37% of sales, totaling $3.46 billion for the four days, which is 28% year-over-year growth in mobile revenue, Adobe says. On Thanksgiving Day, mobile accounted for 57% of visits and 40% of purchases, reaching $771.0 million in sales, according to Adobe.

PayPal reports similar findings, based on data from its network of 192 million consumer accounts and 15 million merchant accounts. Mobile devices accounted for 33% of total payment volume on Thanksgiving Day and again on Black Friday, PayPal says. The average amount spent on mobile devices on Black Friday was $62.35, 6.6% higher than Thanksgiving’s mobile average value of $58.51.

So far on Cyber Monday, mobile devices continue to pull their weight, early data from Adobe indicates. Between midnight and 10 a.m. Eastern, mobile devices accounted for 56% of visits and 38% of sales.

Mass merchants Wal-Mart Stores Inc., No. 4 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide, and Target Corp. (No. 22) likewise saw huge mobile gains throughout the weekend. Mobile accounted for 60% of traffic to on Black Friday, Target says. Even greater, mobile devices accounted for more than 70% of traffic to during its Black Friday sales event, which ran from midnight Eastern on Thanksgiving Day through the Friday after Thanksgiving, Wal-Mart says.

For online jewelry retailer Blue Nile Inc. (No. 82), mobile devices accounted for 36% of sales on its Black Friday promotion, which was 50% off select diamond jewelry, says Harvey Kanter, CEO of Blue Nile. This is a good start, he says. The holidays are a crucial time for Blue Nile, as many couples get engaged and shop for diamonds during the season.

“We have three weeks ahead of us and for us they are the three most important weeks of the year,” Kanter says.

At sports apparel and gear e-retailer Fanatics Inc., (No. 38) mobile accounted for more than 50% sales every day between Thanksgiving and Sunday, which is a record of the most consecutive days in which mobile was the top-selling channel, a Fanatics spokesman says. 

Mobile sales are soaring for several reasons, including increased smartphone penetration, smartphones having larger screen sizes that make it easier to browse and buy, and the fact that retailers have improved the quality of their mobile websites and apps, says Julie Ask, principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc.

“Flash sales, auctions and anything with a limitation on time or inventory—think Black Friday—do well on mobile because shoppers can do it anywhere and anytime,” Ask says.

Mobile technologies, such as quick mobile checkout button Apple Pay, also contribute to a higher volume of mobile sales, and retailers’ omnichannel programs, such as allowing consumers to search for local store inventory, also help, Ask says. E-retailers should keep in mind that even if a sale is not completed on smartphone, mobile devices influence many sales as consumers use those  screens to research products, Ask says.

“The impact of mobile is much bigger than just sales,” Ask says.

For the rest of the holiday shopping season, retailers need to ensure they can deliver what they promise on mobile. For example, mobile sites and apps need to be fast and free of glitches, she says.  

Becky Tasker, managing analyst at Adobe Digital Insights, agrees. Between now and  the end of December, retailers need to ensure their mobile checkout process is error-free, she says.

“Additionally, if retailers find that many customers are abandoning online carts at checkout, now is a perfect time to deploy strategic retargeting campaigns via channels such as email, social and display to encourage customers to return and complete their order, whether it’s on a desktop or smartphone,” Tasker says.

In the long term, retailers still have some work to do on mobile to bring it to desktop’s level, Tasker says. During the Thanksgiving to Sunday period, desktop conversion rates were 2.3 times greater than smartphones and 1.15 times greater than tablets, according to Adobe Digital Insights.

“Retailers should also be monitoring their current trends this holiday season and ensure their actual customer behavior is baked into a long-term strategy,” Tasker says.




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