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Thanksgiving weekend shows highest numbers yet for mobile sales

As retailers’ use of mobile becomes more advanced, consumers are faced with less need to shop in-store, causing an unprecedented number to skip the lines and opt for online, as shown from this past weekend.

Mobile- and online-specific deals, such as free shipping and rewards, are helping to further push consumers out of stores. Online retailers, such as Rue La La, that offered mobile-first experiences online saw high conversion rates via mobile devices, proving that consumers are more willing to make transactions when they are met with deals.

“Black Friday was a clear example of mobile’s ability to create convenience,” said Chris Mason, CEO of Branding Brand, Pittsburgh. “The rise of free shipping, channel-specific deals, and better experiences means that consumers are no longer being penalized for shopping online.

“Instead, it’s a chance to skip the crowds and purchase what you need, quickly and discreetly.”

Growing year over year
For the first time, online traffic from mobile devices outpaced traditional PCs on Thanksgiving Day, according to IBM research. Thanksgiving Day reached a new mobile tipping point with browsing on smartphones and tablets accounting for 52.1 percent of all online traffic.  Overall Thanksgiving online sales were up 14.3 percent compared to 2013.

According to data from Monetate, mobile made up a large chunk of ecommerce traffic during the Black Friday holiday, specifically on the following Saturday. The retail personalization technology provider found that consumers browsing deals online on Black Friday transformed into “Cyber Saturday buyers.”

The average order value of all purchases increased 4.7 percent year over year to $150.77, and revenue per ecommerce session increased 14.8 percent year over year. Conversion rates increased 10.3 percent year over year.

Meanwhile, mobile usage continues to increase. Mobile traffic accounted for 43.98 percent of all online traffic, an increase of 20.13 percent year over year, and mobile sales accounted for 28.6 percent of all online sales, an increase of 13.54 percent year over year.

Regarding smartphones versus tablets, smartphone traffic accounted for 21.4 percent of all online traffic, while tablet traffic accounted for 22.58 percent of all online traffic.

Rakuten Marketing found that while mobile and tablet devices accounted for 40 percent of online traffic on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, those devices only accounted for 25 percent of revenue. IOS is believed to be the operating system of choice for holiday shopping, according to Rakuten’s data, which accounted for 70 percent of mobile traffic and 84 percent of tablet traffic.

Branding Brand, a mobile commerce platform provider, found that one-third of all Black Friday online revenue from shoppers came from mobile devices, which is an increase of 48 percent from last year. Ninety percent of these consumers used Apple devices. Branding Brand’s results come from a sample of 35 of its North American retailers that run on its commerce platform, which showed that mobile devices produced more than $5 million in revenue on Black Friday.

Compared to 2013, the mobile market share of all online revenue increased 48 percent.

“Consumers are using mobile devices in their homes, when visiting others, and in their offices, specifically because they offer immediate access, entertainment, and privacy,” Mr. Mason said. “Any time travel is involved, smartphones and tablets become increasingly important.”

Mobile-focused holiday
Online boutique retailer Rue La La reported record-breaking sales via mobile devices on Thanksgiving Eve, with 68 percent of sales coming from mobile.

Maintaining a database of 13 million members who have seemed to embrace mobile shopping, Rue La La sees an average of 50 percent of its daily sales coming from mobile devices.

“Mobile remains very important for us this holiday season,” said Steve Davis, CEO of Rue La La, Boston. “Member experience is our priority first and foremost, and we have made further improvements since last year, when we saw 60 percent of traffic coming in through mobile on Thanksgiving Day.

“We expect to see 70 percent of our traffic through devices this holiday season, so we have been working hard to ensure we create a seamless, uninterrupted, exciting shopping experience,” he said. “This year, we’ve pushed hard to get our members onto our apps as we see the best conversion rates.”

Rue La La has aimed to go the necessary lengths to add convenience for its mobile shoppers.

“We’ve optimized our emails and member touch points for easy mobile device-viewing, leveraging things like deep linking,” Mr. Davis said. “It’s now easier than ever to move from device to device for an easy, continuous shopping experience.

“For example, if you are in the middle of shopping on your phone, you can pick back up right where you left off on your tablet,” he said. “We want to make sure Rue La La is offering the best shopping experience no matter where you are.”

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York