Mobility takes center stage this Black Friday, up over 30 percent

By Wyatt Urmey

| Retail

Not long ago, Black Friday was an industry term rather than a cause to celebrate. How things have changed….and how things have stayed the same.

We once went shopping on the day after Thanksgiving because it happened to be a day off for many of us – and it followed our family time and an epic meal we surely needed to walk off. Now, the annual drive to outlets and malls is eagerly anticipated based on retailers supercharging our original consumer habits with one-time deals and promotions.

Predictions are that this holiday shopping season will improve on the prior year overall, benefiting from our US economies full employment and wage improvement. A good sign already is that online sales were up Friday by 36 percent over the same day in 2014 and pre-Thanksgiving spending is already off to a fast start. Order value for the mobile and desktop shopper combined at over $130, which is up over $9 from last year, according to Watson’s Trend Hub.

Therefore, mobility’s overall impact on seasonal sales stands to make a very big leap forward overall this year as well. On Black Friday, mobile sales were also strong, with 36.2 percent of all online sales coming from mobile devices, an increase of nearly 30 percent over last year. With much of that impact on the eCommerce side, there are still implications from mobile on foot traffic to and within stores. Among records I’m sure we’ll all hear are shattering this year, there is particular anticipation of a record season for shopping with mobile devices – as they are overtaking desktops in overall volume of transactions. According to comScore, and published on Tech Crunch, e-commerce holiday spending will reach $70B this year, with mobile accounting for much of the growth overall in transactions. So far, mobile shoppers spent $121.02 per order, which is up $18.86 more per order this year.

While some US prominent retailers turned the madness on its head this year, it doesn’t change that millions took to the malls, too. An estimated 135 million American shoppers alone are expected to spend during the next four days – which, is pretty close to 50% of the total US population. Of course, there are the lines, a lack of parking and the hesitations as the credit card approval system absorbed the spike in volume. But on the other hand, many of us turn out precisely for Black Friday sales for the adventurous, festive carnival vibe – that is, the Burning Man and Thunder Dome meets Blue Light Special – human spectacle of it all, as much as for the discounts.

In fact, mobile is feeding the trend on both sides of the holiday shopping “arms race,” providing benefits for the customer and the retailers. This is why mobile will be pivotal for holiday shopping. For customers, a suave group of leading edge Smart Phone users are building advantage on regular shoppers with their mobile device acumen. They find discounts while they wait in early morning lines, monitor social sites for feeds to find out when door buster items run out, and share the spectacle with friends as it happens in the moment.

For retailers, stores now can ‘sense’ our arrival and share specific personalized discounts with those that opt-in, making us feel more affinity for them and driving up potential for sales. Mobile has not just been in the kick-off to holiday shopping with the best retailers, as more and more are understanding their clients better with context understanding before Black Friday even begins. Then, they use even more personalized outreach, including push messaging appropriate to our holiday shopping habits, inviting their best shoppers long in advance using loyalty card data and spending habits to invite their best customers to early “exclusive” sales to reward them. Retailers are learning that selling a TV at a deep discount or loss to a one-time Black Friday customer won’t create the benefits as offering that deal to their best spending customers.