IBM Reports: Thanksgiving Sets Historic Milestone as Mobile Drives More Than Half of All Shopping Traffic
December 04, 2014
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IBM reported record online and mobile shopping during Thanksgiving and Black Friday based on consumer transaction data analyzed in real-time by the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark. The data-driven insight gives retailers and marketers more than 370 performance indicators to benchmark themselves against industry peers to drive more targeted customer engagements.

For the first time, online traffic from mobile devices outpaced traditional PCs on Thanksgiving Day. As IBM predicted within one percent of accuracy, 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.

The mobile momentum carried into Black Friday, which saw a surge in both online and mobile shopping as consumers brought their devices into the store to comparison shop. Overall Black Friday online sales were up 9.5 percent year-over-year with mobile devices accounting for one-in-four of all online purchases. New York City also retained its title as the top U.S. city for Black Friday online shopping.

“Mobile has become the new Thanksgiving tradition as consumers find the best deals with their fingers as well as their feet," said Jay Henderson, Director, IBM Smarter Commerce. “We saw retailers harness the power of data to engage shoppers, identifying the unique preferences of their customers while quickly capitalizing on online, mobile or in-store trends as they emerged.”

The company released the following trends at the official close of the two-day shopping period:

- Historic Mobile Milestone Spurs Online Shopping: Thanksgiving Day mobile traffic accounted for 52.1 percent of all online traffic – the first time mobile devices have outpaced their PC counterparts for online browsing. Black Friday mobile traffic reached 49.6 percent of all online traffic, an increase of 25 percent over last year. Black Friday mobile sales accounted for 27.9 percent of total online sales, up 28.2 percent over 2013.

- Smartphones Browse, Tablets Buy: As the new digital shopping companion for many consumers, smartphones drove 34.7 percent of all Black Friday online traffic, more than double that of tablets, which accounted for 14.6 percent of all traffic. Yet, when it comes to mobile sales, tablets continue to win the shopping war – driving 16 percent of online sales compared to 11.8 percent for smartphones, a difference of 35.5 percent. Tablet users also averaged $126.50 per order compared to $107.55 for smartphone users, a difference of 17.6 percent.

- Thanksgiving Eats Into Black Friday Sales: Thanksgiving Day online sales increased 14.3 percent over 2013, with Black Friday up 9.5 percent year-over-year. Average order value on Thanksgiving was $125.25, down 1.8 percent over 2013; Black Friday was $129.37, down 4.4 percent. This trend may indicate that shoppers are becoming more comfortable and digitally savvy in how they use online coupons and rebates to secure the best bargains. Black Friday online sales were 63.5 percent higher than Thanksgiving Day. This is a decrease from 2013, however, when it was 70 percent higher as Thanksgiving online sales continue to eat into Black Friday shopping.

- The Desktop is Not Dead: When consumers did choose to use their PC or desktop, they spent more with an average order value of $135.33 compared to $116.02 for mobile shoppers, a difference of 16.6 percent.

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