Online and mobile shopping bulked up sales and lightened wallets this weekend as customers were served their first, second, and third course helpings of integrated holiday shopping with Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday.
“The winning strategies for retailers this weekend were the ones that focused on the multichannel experiences; the ones who made it easy for consumers to shop through whatever channel they found to be most convenient,” says Jay Henderson, strategy director for IBM Smarter Commerce.
According to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday IBM Digital Analytics Benchmarks, part of IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative, online sales continued to skyrocket as the weekend progressed with online sales jumping 17.4% over 2011 on Thanksgiving, 20.7% on Black Friday, and 30.3% on “the Super Bowl of online shopping,” Cyber Monday, says Henderson. The Cyber Monday Benchmark reports that online shopping peaked at 11:25 a.m. EST that day.
“There was some concern that because retailers started their promotions earlier this year, because they were rolling out promotions on Thanksgiving Day and making their online promotions available on Black Friday, that that might cannibalize sales from Cyber Monday, but we didn’t see any dampening of enthusiasm,” Henderson says.
Adobe also revealed its U.S. Cyber Monday data, following up the Adobe Digital Index 2012 Online Shopping Forecast. The Index shows that Cyber Monday 2012 online sales, tallied at about $1.98 billion, grew 17% compared to Cyber Monday 2011.
“We predicted $2 billion worth of sales for Cyber Monday and the actual number came in at $1.98 billion, off by less than 1%; and we expected 18% growth and the actual growth ended up being about 17%. So we were very close in our predictions,” says Matt Langie, Adobe’s marketing manager of the Digital Index. “Cyber Monday certainly presents an opportunity for consumers to shop in the convenience of their home, and with a simple click of a button, be able to purchase that ideal gift.”
Mobile shopping also shot up this weekend with 58% of consumers using their smartphones and 41% using their tablets to find the best deals on Black Friday. Likewise, mobile sales jumped from 9.8% in 2011 to 16% this year. The iPad took home the prize for top mobile traffic driver, propelling approximately 10% of shopping for those taking advantage of deals over the Thanksgiving weekend. The iPhone and Android followed, driving 8.7% and 5.5%, respectively.
“That means people during the day had their phones at the dinner table and were surfing and shopping, and then at night time, after they put their turkey and their cranberry sauce away and finished up their pie, they curled up on the couch with their tablet devices for a little bit of couch commerce,” IBM’s Henderson says.
“There has been strength across several channels and vehicles this year, but I don’t think it’s shocking that mobile growth continues to be off the charts,” says Brett Goffin, Google’s industry head of retail. “It’s clear to me that merchants who are able to provide an optimal user experience on high-end devices are better positioned to capitalize in this arena versus those that don’t.”
Although mobile sales closed in on 13% on Cyber Monday, a leap of more than 96% from last year, mobile traffic and sales slumped more than 20% from Black Friday, according to the IBM Benchmark. However, Henderson considers this descent normal. “You saw this shifting across different devices. It was the phones on Thanksgiving Day, it was the tablets in the evenings, and on Monday it was PCs because people were back in the office at their desktops,” he says.
However, Adobe’s data shows that consumers tapped into their mobile devices on Cyber Monday a bit more than IBM’s says, and cites that mobile made up 22% of Cyber Monday’s total online sales. Additionally, Langie says that on Black Friday nearly $1 out of every $4 spent online originated from a mobile device.
“In fact, the most mobile savvy retailers, our customers, saw 30% of their online sales coming from mobile,” Langie says.
IBM claims that social referrals has little influence this weekend. According to the Benchmark, social referrals–including those from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube–were responsible for 0.41% of all online sales on Cyber Monday, a decrease of more than 26% from 2011.
Adobe also found social to play minor role in this year’s Cyber Monday, noting that social marketing was responsible for 2% of total site visits.
“In terms of social media, last year there was a big focus from retailers around creating deals or promotions specific to Facebook fans or Twitter followers,” says IBM’s Henderson. “This year we saw retailers shift away from that strategy—using those vehicles a little bit less to drive conversions on their online site and to shift a little bit more to try and create awareness. So, we saw retailers invest in making it easy for consumers to share information about the items they purchased and the deals they found.”
However, Facebook’s data proves otherwise, and claims that the top Facebook retailers, gathered from the Internet Retailer Top500 Guide, experienced a Cyber Monday traffic increase of 240%, with 1-800-Flowers.com traffic blooming 5,477%.
In terms of search, Google searches for “Cyber Monday” soared 400% over the last week in the United States alone and “Cyber Monday deals” had more than one million searches, according to Google’s search data from Cyber Monday. “Laptop,” “Nexus 7,” and “television” were the top three search queries in the U.S., according to Google.
“Consumer electronics, as a category, tends to have a higher percentage of sales executed via e-commerce compared to other categories,” Goffin says. “It’s also a category that traditionally has anticipated product launches occur during this time period compared to other categories. The Nexus 7 launch, which was the number-two most searched term yesterday, is a prime example of this.”
Henderson claims that retailers reaped the benefits of keeping customers engaged with spaced out or prolonged deals. “I think certainly we saw great success this year with retailers extending Cyber Monday back into the whole weekend—Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day,” he says. “So rather than Cyber Monday being a discrete shopping day on its own, we’ve really been thinking about it as the whole Thanksgiving weekend shopping event, and we certainly saw retailers sequence promotions so that they could keep customers shopping throughout that period.”
Based on the Benchmark findings, Henderson advises retailers to optimize their websites for smartphones and tablets to reap the full benefits of mobile; bring favored online elements (such as QR codes) offline and in-store; have a well-defined social media strategy that promotes brand awareness and easy sharing; and test marketing programs and then analyze their success.
“I think there’s some big lessons learned from what we saw this weekend,” Henderson says.