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Mobile drove retail traffic on Thanksgiving, sales on Black Friday

While it is clear that mobile had a big impact on retailers and shoppers throughout the recently holiday weekend, the numbers suggest the biggest impact on online traffic sites happened on Thanksgiving Day,while sales saw the biggest mobile-related jump on Black Friday.

There was a lot of speculation heading into the Thanksgiving holiday weekend about  whether Cyber Monday would need to be renamed Mobile Monday or if Mobile Friday would replace Black Friday. In the aftermath of the shopping weekend frenzy, it appears that mobile’s impact was felt throughout the weekend.

“In terms of delivering the biggest percentage of mobile traffic for all online traffic, Thanksgiving Day has been the biggest mobile day thus far, followed by Black Friday, and Cyber Monday closely behind,” said Stephen Pierzchala, Web performance evangelist and consultant with Compuware, Detroit, MI.  

 “We attribute this to the increased couch-commerce trend – people shopping from the comfort of their homes and relatives’ homes as early as Thanksgiving night,” he said. “It only makes sense given the convenience factor – when you’re at a relative’s house, your iPhone or iPad is the computing device you’re most apt to have on hand. 

“We also attribute Thursday’s win to the fact that this year, retailers began offering deals on Thanksgiving night, which only served to bolster mobile Web browsing and sales.”

Post-pie couch shopping
Mobile accounted for 25.3 percent of the traffic to retailers’ Web sites on Thanksgiving, the highest number from the weekend and Monday, according to figures from IBM. On Black Friday, mobile accounted for 24 percent of traffic while on Cyber Monday, it accounted for 18 percent.

Much of the activity was driven by iPhones and iPads.

“We did see great growth for mobile across the whole Thanksgiving extend weekend,” said Jay Henderson, strategy director at IBM Smarter Commerce, Armonk, NY.

“It actually peaked on Thanksgiving Day,” he said.

“If you look across all three days, Thanksgiving Day was the day that people were most likely to use their smartphones, maybe from the dinner table and later on, after they finished their turkey, to curl up on the couch for some post-pie couch shopping.”

Multichannel experiences
Mobile use was dominated by smartphones during the day on all three days and then switched over to tablets during the evening, suggesting the need for marketers to focus on creating multichannel experiences.

“The implications for marketers is that they have to create experiences for consumers that let them shop and buy however they want,” IBM’s Mr. Henderson said.

Skava, which works with 20 percent of the top 30 Internet retailers, saw mobile traffic increase 100 percent compared to last year, with the biggest increase taking place on Thanksgiving Day.  

These results point to the need for retailers to have mobile and tablet optimized Web sites for their Black Friday deals.

Mobile conversions
When it comes to mobile-influenced sales, Black Friday was by far the biggest shopping day on mobile, per Skava.

“There was huge volumes of traffic on Thanksgiving but conversion was low for most retailers – indicating that people were pre-shopping,” said Danielle McCormick, director of marketing at Skava, San Francisco. “Then conversion increased 300 percent on Black Friday.”

Whether the second biggest mobile shopping day was Thanksgiving or Cyber Monday depended on the retailer, per Ms. McCormick.

Per Compuware, there was still a high volume of mobile Web visits on Black Friday, which can be attributed to shoppers accessing their mobile phones while they are on the go, to supplement the in-store shopping experience.

 While Cyber Monday saw mobile traffic volumes that were slightly lower than Black Friday, the volume of mobile visitors was substantially higher than these same retailer sites saw during the previous week, per Compuware.

The results suggest that consumers are still primarily shopping from their desks sitting in front of a PC on Cyber Monday.  

“It seems that a lot more people now prefer to open their mobile or tablet device on Thanksgiving than their laptop,” Skava’s Ms. McCormick said. “This is a crucial day for investigating and deciding what deals they are going to take up.

“On Thanksgiving Day, we saw a spike in traffic in the morning as people logged on to see the deals,” she said. “They mainly browsed but didn’t buy.

“Then the traffic died off in the afternoon as people had their meals and then it shot up and increased all the way to midnight.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York