Sales data is now beginning to emerge from Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and it looks like the big winner is the mobile sector. Mobile sales were up 43% on last year, accounting for 21.8% of all online sales and 39.7% of total online traffic. IBM’s comprehensive analysis of the period has produced a wealth of information to help marketers understand what happened and begin adapting their strategies accordingly.
While high street sales were again low this year, traditional computer sales also fell by 24.1% from last year to make up 60.3% of total spend. Within the mobile sector, smartphones were up 79.1%; however, the biggest success story of all was the tablet, up 113.6%. The perfect combination of convenience and a good-sized display seems to be a winning formula. Mobile, overall, is likely to enjoy a boost during the holiday shopping period because it is easy to use discreetly and to keep purchases a secret when they are intended as gifts. Tablet use accounted for 22.4% of total revenue.
It is still too early to say how multi-device purchases may have impacted sales over the period; however, if more general data can be applied in this case, it would be expected that a sizable number of customers researched products on one type of device before buying them using another. This could explain the disparity between mobile traffic and sales figures, with mobile devices being used for discreet searches, but with people still preferring to buy using traditional computers, perhaps due to a perception that doing so is more secure.
Several other interesting stories are already emerging from the Thanksgiving and Black Friday data. This blog has previously alerted readers to the rising influence of Pinterest, and these two crucial shopping days saw it really come into its own. Over the period, it saw an impressive 77% more referrals than Facebook, though the latter was more likely to lead to sales; this is probably because Pinterest is still an experimental medium for marketers and conversion strategies are in an early stage of development. Further complicating matters, the average Pinterest conversion was worth $92.51 compared with Facebook’s $52.30.
This year, online sales grew strongly in two sectors where shoppers have long preferred to make purchases in person: apparel and beauty. This suggests an increased confidence in standardization and in advertisers’ descriptions, together with trust in leading brands. It suggests that online marketing is now able to make inroads even in the most difficult areas.