What Post-Thanksgiving, Black Friday, & Cyber Monday Numbers Tell Us

Now that the official kick-off to the mad 2014 holiday shopping season is behind us, we were very curious to know how our industry fared this year. Here are some sales and traffic numbers to consider (compared to 2013):

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The numbers show that ecommerce did extremely well this past Thanksgiving. The decrease in in-store traffic, combined with the impressive growth in online sales this season, indicates that a significan number of people converted to buying online this year. PayPal, an excellent indicator of global payment activity due to its size and reach, is reporting a 47% year over year increase in PayPal global mobile payment volume on Thanksgiving, and a 62% increase for Black Friday.

According to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark:

  • Mobile devices drove more than half of Thanksgiving online traffic
  • Cyber Monday mobile traffic accounted for 41.2% of all online traffic, up 30.1% over 2013
  • Mobile sales were also strong, reaching 22%of total Cyber Monday online sales, an increase of 27.6% year-over-year
  • From Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, overall online sales increased 12.6%, with mobile sales up 27.2% compared to the same period in 2013
  • Shoppers browse on their smartphones but buy on tablets – smartphones drove 28.5% of all Cyber Monday online traffic, but only 9.1% of online sales while tablets drove 12.5% of online traffic and 12.9% of online sales

These numbers mean very good things for our industry, but they have also exposed some ugly truths about the state of mobile shopping in the U.S. While the actual stats may vary from source to source, they are all telling the same story. First and foremost, people were sitting at the Thanksgiving dinner table looking for online shopping deals on their smartphones while ignoring their turkey (come on, you know you were one of them!).

Additionally, the strong shift to online and mobile shopping continues to take a bite out of retail store traffic and sales and, perhaps the most important of all, the significant increase in year over year mobile (tablet and smartphone) shopping activity.

Despite the large increases in year over year mobile traffic and sales, conversion rates from mobile traffic remain a major challenge for retailers as compared to traffic from a desk or laptop. This can be blamed on the fact that for the vast majority of retailers, shopping on a mobile device remains an incredibly painful experience. Mobile Commerce Daily called out top retailers (Best Buy, Neiman Marcus, GameStop, and J. Crew) as having an outage or slowdown in performance over this critical online shopping weekend. In the same article, David Jones, web and mobile performance strategist at Dynatrace, cited Cabela’s, Foot Locker, and Staples as struggling to maintain mobile site performance.

How much revenue was left on the table from shoppers unable to complete a mobile purchase, we may never know; however, we do know that retailers can no longer afford to ignore mobile. The tipping point has arrived. Customers have spoken. And retailers need to listen: Let them shop where they want, when they want, and how they want.

How did you do this Thanksgiving? What were your struggles? Let us help you prepare for 2015! Contact us today.

3 HOT TIPS:

  • Optimize the user experience of your mobile site or app. Test extensively based on tasks and personas that reflect your actual customer base and product category.
  • Mitigate the risk of compromised performance from extreme surges in holiday mobile site traffic by adding servers, leveraging a content delivery network (CDN), and stress testing your server network for very large spikes in traffic.
  • Stagger the deployment of large email sends to spread the traffic out over a greater period of time to avoid everyone trying to access your web and mobile site at the same time.

 

What was big in 2013, trends to watch in 2014, and the mood at NRF 2014

By all accounts, 2013 was a very interesting year in ecommerce. It’s a year where the reality of mobile, or mobility as it’s now being referred to, came to fruition whether retailers were ready for it or not. It’s also a year when, for many, just talking about omnichannel became no longer enough – and the term “multichannel” was effectively dropped from our vernacular. It was also a year when providers of technology and services started to finally work together to form the integrated solutions that retailers so desperately need to compete and keep up with customers’ expectations.

Working with a lot of different companies provides insight into the many things that keep retail business owners up at night. So what was on their minds?

  • Technology
    • PIM, or product information management, was among the most asked-about technologies
    • CMS, or content management system, was also hot on retailers’ minds – as they are producing more content to engage their audiences and gain better visibility within search engines, the organization, and storage of that content becomes a bigger issue
    • Responsive design vs. mobile-optimized – from 2012 through 2013, retailers experienced a major shift in the types of devices their site traffic is coming from, but without the typical conversion rates, and so the debate regarding responsive design vs. mobile-optimized continued with no clear winner
    • Mobility – the conversation about mobile has shifted to “mobility”, and engaging customers using location-based targeting and geo-fencing technologies
  • Business strategy priorities
    • B2B – more and more B2B businesses are looking to leverage online and mobile to serve their customers and generate qualified leads, and are considering ways to offer their products and services to a B2C audience
    • Omnichannel – in most instances, customers’ expectations of retailers’ omnichannel capabilities far exceed reality, and so the struggle continues to provide a more seamless and integrated experience across all channels and platforms
    • International – with US internet penetration maxing out, and the evolution of service providers and platforms to support it, retailers are looking abroad to drive sales growth and broaden their footprint
  • New Trends
    • Visual Navigation – the use of strong imagery, most notably by social network Pinterest, has introduced a new breed of browsing that shoppers have responded to very favorably
    • Atypical product and service providers going online to retain existing customers and reach new ones
    • The emergence of an end-to-end personalization solution that brings all of the disparate components (product recommendations, site personalization, off-site retargeting, and analytics) all together in one platform

2013 was a good year, and 2014 promises to be even better. Just having been at NRF’s Annual Convention and Expo, where our CEO, Bernardine Wu, spoke on the topics of omnichannel and mobile, you could sense the excitement from the attendees throughout the Expo hall. Many retailers stated that they finally have budgets to move their omnichannel plans forward. It’ll take a while for it to all come together, but that’s certainly good news for all of their customers out there.

Let our team of ecommerce experts help you prepare for the 2014 season!

3 HOT TIPS:

  • Rank and prioritize omnichannel initiatives by level of effort, potential return, and importance to your customers to make sure you tackle the most important things first.
  • If you haven’t already, analyze your site traffic by device to determine the level of urgency to move to the next phase of your website’s evolution with responsive design.
  • Understand what countries, other than the US, are driving traffic and sales to your site and begin to understand the options and opportunities to go global.

Responsive Design: What it is and How You Should Use it

Responsive design is the idea of approaching a site’s design from the standpoint that the site’s design flexibly ‘responds’ to the user based on a number of factors, including device type, screen size, screen orientation, and browser. Implementation is done by using a combination of flexible layouts and creative CSS rules. Is responsive design the right choice for your company? That depends.

If you’re like many companies, you have noticed that the percentage of visitors to your site via mobile phones and tablets has steadily increased with no signs of slowing down. You may have a team devoted to the ecommerce site, but perhaps you view it from a holistic level and not as a different set of user experiences based on user device. And you see that conversion and revenue varies widely from Android phone users to iPad users to desktop users. Some factors to consider when deciding whether to move forward with responsive design:

  • Know who your customers are. Use analytic data to determine your largest and most important customer demographics. Which devices (and their corresponding screen sizes) your visitors are using will direct where your responsive design efforts should be pointed. Track key metrics as changes are made to monitor the effectiveness of each tactic.
  • Know what your customers want. Usability tests and actively soliciting customer feedback through interviews and surveys are both good ways of learning your customers’ needs. Use this to design with your users in mind.
  • Don’t forget the basics. While good responsive design can be a great way to gain exposure for your site, it can also have the unintended consequence of drawing attention to the shortcomings of your ecommerce business. Make sure you address any fundamental flaws in your product content management processes prior to executing any mobile strategy.
  • Design for functionality, not just space. Remember, in addition to smaller screen sizes, mobile devices often have additional functionality built-in, such as GPS location, cameras, and ability to make phone calls. Providing in-site functionality for click-to-call and maps can be a huge boost to usability.
  • Stay fluid. Design using a flexible and modular approach; this way you will not only be able to accomodate the existing multitude of devices and screen sizes, but you’ll also be ready for any of the nearly limitless and unpredictable new devices that are sure to come in the future.


Responsive vs. Adaptive Design

You may have heard these terms used interchangably, but they do in fact have different meanings.

At the simplest level, adaptive design refers to the existence of multiple versions of the site, one of which is served from the server-side based on which device attributes are detected by the server.

Responsive design refers to the existence of only one version of the site, the display of which is adjusted on the client-side by the browser, based on the display and relation to other page elements.

Choosing between adaptive and responsive design often comes down to the pros and cons of each. While adaptive design can be more finely tuned to specific devices and screen sizes, it also takes more time and resources to deploy effectively. Responsive design is often a quicker and easier solution, especially when starting from an existing site, but some of the finer-tuning can get lost in the shuffle.
An effective responsive design deployment can help you increase conversion and revenue across multiple user experiences. FitForCommerce has the expertise and people to help your company develop an intelligent responsive design strategy. Let us know if we can help!

3 HOT TIPS:

  • Start small and work your way up: When executing your responsive design plan, start by designing for the smallest (mobile browsers) and scale up for tablets and desktop browsers by using CSS rules to display additional content.
  • Use icon fonts: Replace commonly used icon images with icon fonts when possible as they provide a scalable and editable alternative for commonly used images, resulting in a much lighter footprint and quicker page load times.
  • Don’t leave out the important stuff: Visitors come to your site for a reason. Regardless of what your site looks like, make sure that you always provide your site’s most essential information and services no matter what device your visitor uses.