ARCHIVES: This is legacy content from before Industry Dive acquired Mobile Commerce Daily in early 2017. Some information, such as publication dates, may not have migrated over. Check out our topic page for the latest mobile commerce news.

Retailers give thanks for smartphone shoppers during holiday weekend

Store traffic and desktop-only shopping journeys both took a hit over the Thanksgiving weekend, but strong smartphone-driven browsing and purchasing left retailers feeling thankful anyway.

Data for the holiday weekend from several different sources suggests that gift shopping during this period is increasingly becoming a smartphone-driven experience. The data suggests that consumers at Thanksgiving are turning to their smartphones to help them take advantage of the numerous special deals available while still trying to make the most of the time with their families.

Shopping and football
The 2015 Thanksgiving holiday weekend saw a continuation of a trend that began to emerge a couple of years ago, with consumers beginning to shop on Thanksgiving Day itself, using their smartphones to find deals while still watching the football game with family.

Mobile had a 37 percent share of online sales on Thanksgiving Day, up from 26 percent last year and 21 percent in 2013, according to figures from Adobe. Mobile drove $380 million in sales on Thanksgiving Day, with smartphones accounting for 22 percent of sales and tablets 15 percent.

Mobile’s share of online sales is likely to be largest on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the holiday weekend or Cyber Monday, per Adobe. Mobile also outperformed in terms of traffic, accounting for 57 percent of Thanksgiving Day online traffic.

Data from IBM supports how smartphone shoppers are dominating Thanksgiving. IBM found that smartphones accounted for 46.7 percent of all online traffic, with tablets at 13.7 percent. Smartphones drove 23.9 percent of sales versus tablets at 16.1 percent.

Overall, online sales on Thanksgiving are growing, reaching $1.73 billion on Thanksgiving Day, up from $1.38 billion last year and $1.09 billion in 2013, per Adobe.

According to HookLogic, the biggest share in mobile ecommerce traffic occurred at 7 a.m. ET on Thanksgiving, coming in at 71 percent, suggesting many consumers were shopping from their beds when they woke up

Avoiding crowds
Shoppers are also less focused on Black Friday itself as a day to go shopping as they look to avoid crowded stores and embrace online shopping. As a result, online sales are growing while in-store sales and traffic are spread more evenly across the weekend.

Retailers, recognizing the trend, are pushing more deals online, including a growing selection of mobile-only deals.

ShopperTrak reports that bricks-and-mortar sales for Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday combined totaled a projected $12.1 billion, which is a decrease from 2014.

Preliminary numbers also suggest a decrease in shopper visits to stores on both days compared to last year, reflecting how shoppers are researching products ahead of time, targeting their store visits and arriving with the intention of a making a purchase.

Shopping assistant
On Black Friday, consumers were not only using their smartphones to to avoid having to go a bricks-and-mortar store or to research a product but also to assist with their in-store experience.

On Black Friday, sales from mobile made up 34 percent of revenue, with smartphones accounting for 22 percent and tablets 12 percent, per Rakuten Marketing. Also, nearly half of site visits occurred on mobile devices, 36 percent from smartphones and 14 percent from tablets.

Smartphones had a bigger role in consumers’ shopping journeys on both Thanksgiving and Black Friday, with 46 percent of all purchases made on these days origination from and converting on a smartphone and 26 percent originating from a smartphone and converting on a desktop, according to Rakuten Marketing. Desktop-to-desktop conversions made up only 8 percent of purchase paths those days compared with 30 percent of purchase paths the rest of November.

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