Mobile shopping habits shifted noticeably this Black Friday, marking the first time smartphones generated more sales than tablets, mainly by stealing device share from desktops.
According to IBM's Watson Trend benchmark data, sales from all mobile devices hit 36.2 percent this year, up nearly 30 percent from Black Friday 2014. Of that total, one in five sales – 20.6 percent – happened on smartphones. That's up 75 percent from 11.8 percent on Black Friday 2014.
Tablets' percentage of sales declined 3 percent, falling from 16 percent in 2014 to 15.5 percent. Although the desktop still drives more sales, its 2015 share – 63.8 percent – fell 11.4 percent from Black Friday 2014.
Two other "firsts" from Black Friday 2015: More online shoppers browsed on mobile devices than desktops. Mobile's share hit 57.2 percent, up 15 percent from 2014:
Also, tablet average order value ($136.42) beat desktop ($134.06), although AOV increased across all devices.
More Black Friday and Cranberry Red Thursday (Thanksgiving) numbers from IBM's Watson Trend and the IBM Marketing Cloud:
- Although mobile devices drove stronger traffic and sales, the conversion rate remained roughly half of the desktop rate.
- Mobile traffic and sales have expanded 10X over five years, from 5.6 percent of traffic and 3.6 percent of sales in 2010 to 57.2 percent of traffic and 36.2 percent of sales in 2015.
- Mobile's share of sales on Thanksgiving hit 40 percent.
- For the second year in a row, mobile drove a larger percentage of traffic and sales on Thanksgiving than it did on Black Friday. Mobile accounted for 60 percent of all online traffic on Thanksgiving Day.
- Online sales grew 24.2 percent on Thanksgiving Day 2015, from 32.3 percent in 2014 to 40 percent this year.
- Mobile email clicks were up 22.8 percent on Black Friday over 2014, while mobile opens only grew 2.7 percent.
Key Takeaways for Retailers
1) Smartphones are the dominant mobile device on holiday shopping days, but retailers still need to close the mobile experience gap.
What we said in 2014 still holds: Smartphones browse, but desktops convert. The gap shrank a bit this year, with one of every five sales originating on a smartphone, but mobile conversion rates still lag.
On the bright side, it means that proximity and convenience are prompting more mobile shoppers to push past poor mobile ecommerce experiences to browse and buy. Shoppers likely had their phones within reach and could easily check and click on email during TV commercials or lulls in the dining action.
Although the gap between traffic and sales on mobile devices is shrinking, retailers still must work harder to close it quicker by adding conveniences such as simpler payment options and a "save for later" function to streamline the checkout process.
2) Tablets are becoming the "considered purchase" device.
Tablets lost device share for sales but rang up the highest AOV this Black Friday 2015. The tablet's "lean back" approach lends itself more to researching and purchasing either more high-ticket items or more items in a single shopping session.
That's likely thanks to its larger screen and the ways a user shops on a tablet – often in a more secure, less hectic environment than smartphone-holding shoppers might experience.
3) Mobile email optimization efforts are starting to pay off.
Mobile email click-throughs jumped 22.8 percent on Black Friday, from 44.7 percent in 2014 to 54.9 percent in 2015. This increase is noteworthy because mobile opens were up only 2.7 percent, from 56.1 percent in 2014 to 57.6 percent this year.
The uptick in click-throughs likely means that brands' investment in optimizing email for viewing on mobile devices is paying off, whether by moving to responsive design or adding mobile-first techniques.
1) Ebook: “2015 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study”
2) Blog: “The Email Experience Audit: Why You Need One”
3) Tip Sheet: “Transactional Emails: 10 Tips for Driving Value and Engagement”