Online and Mobile Shopping Emerge As Big Winners For Holiday Shoppers

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Mobile shopping emerged as the big winner on Black Friday despite an 11% drop in overall spending compared to last year. Data collected over this past Thanksgiving weekend by Bizrate Insights found that online purchases made on a mobile phone nearly doubled from the year before. Predictive analytics platform, Custora announced that mobile comprised nearly one-third of total online shopping on Black Friday, jumping up from just over 20% during the same period in 2013. In addition, NRF reported that around 40% of smartphone users used their smartphones to make purchasing decisions over Thanksgiving weekend.

Desktop users were also quite busy spending money online, as comScore reported that online spending via desktops jumped 32% to just over a record $1 billion on Thanksgiving Day and soared even further to $1.51 billion on Black Friday.

The increase in online buying is not just a one-time phenomenon, but a new trend that’s changing the way consumers buy holiday gifts. As smartphones become ever connected to consumers’ daily lives, and applications like PayPal and the iPhone’s new Apple Pay become commonplace, spending habits are set to change.

“As retailers improve the mobile experience to gain sales – app or mobile optimized website – we could begin to see the share of sales on a desktop decreasing,” says Hayley A. Silver, Vice President of Bizrate Insights, a division of Connexity, Inc. “However it is still too early to know what will become the standard.”

According to eMarketer, worldwide e-commerce sales are set to increase nearly 20% by the end of this year, with Asia-Pacific countries growing fast while North America and Western Europe remain consistently strong. Seeing this trend, social media sites like Twitter are making e-commerce more social by implementing “buy now” features on their site and mobile apps.

Though the tools of the trade have changed, that doesn’t mean the mindset behind obtaining new consumers on mobile is much different than brick and mortar stores. Convenience, as always, is key.

Mobile is on the rise, but desktop is far from dead. Companies like Honey implement a browser plugin that allows shoppers to get the best possible deal when shopping online by adding coupon codes from around the Internet at the time of checkout.

Other desktop companies like ShopGenius and Ebates incentivises shoppers to do their online buying through their app or site, allowing them to follow their purchase history in exchange for discounts and cashback rewards. The popularity behind these applications resides in their simple to use, non-intrusive design that gives consumers space to shop until they’re on the checkout page.

Stressing the importance of a good interface, Silver explains that customer feedback and data point to the need for mobile improvements as more consumers flock to make purchases through applications.

Though, 45% of buyers reported shopping or browsing online with their mobile phones Thanksgiving Weekend, not all of them were able to complete the purchase on their mobile devices, even though most of them intended to buy. This gap shows the importance of technology catching up to consumers.

New data shows that these holiday shopping e-commerce numbers are a sign of things to come. The increased spending comes as smartphones and tablets have become commonplace devices for shopping and buying online. In 2013, eMarketer reported 79.4 million U.S. consumers, amounting to 51% of digital buyers, will purchase online using a mobile device. By 2017, 77.1% of digital buyers in the U.S. will use a mobile device to make at least one online purchase.

That’s a lot of thumbs.

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