Subsidized By The Non-Mobile Shopper

Not everyone used mobile or tablets to shop during Black Friday weekend.

As all the weekend and post-weekend research shows, mobile was clearly a significant shopping factor, as expected. Most everyone involved in mobile saw increases over last year, whether by number of people using mobile devices for shopping or transaction volume.

  • 24 percent of consumers used a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site, says IBM’s research.
  • 30,000 orders were placed from major retailers on Thanksgiving and 51,000 on Black Friday, according to Branding Brand.
  • Mobile page views via smartphone reached 21 million on Black Friday, says Branding Brand.

While the numbers associated with shopping via mobile are substantial, they pale when compared to the non-mobile universe.

For example, retail increased 8 percent to 594 million store visits over what somebody has labeled Black Friday Weekend, according to ShopperTrak. Retail sales also increased with shoppers spending $22 billion across the four days.



The Nation Retail Federation pegged the number of Thanksgiving Day consumers who visited retailers’ stores and Web sites at 35 million with the average shopper spending $423 over Black Friday weekend.

Add to this the fact that that 47 percent have already started their holiday shopping (no, me neither), says Rasmusssen Reports -- and you can see this is going to be a large shopping season, both with and without mobile.

This begs the question -- what are non-mobile shoppers doing and what might they be missing? I spent time in a Best Buy on Black Friday to observe which shoppers were using phones in-store and for what purpose.

We saw some shoppers checking products online through their smartphones, some who spoke with someone on a phone while reading the specs on a product and some texting, which may or may not have been shopping-related.

While much of the mobile shopping activity is done outside of the store, the majority in stores are not yet there. However, the mobile activity and non-activity has several implications for both retailers and consumers.

Although not highly publicized, Best Buy and Target will now price-match Amazon pricing, a marked difference from past practices and a big win for Amazon last holiday season.

The in-store mobile shopper can quickly scan a barcode, see the Amazon price in an instant, show the phone to the cashier and receive the discount on the spot, saving time and money.

The non-mobile shopper pays the price listed, unless they had the foresight to check Amazon and other pricing online before heading to the store.

This places the retailer in the position of serving two distinct sets of customers: the real-time, smartphone-enabled and the traditional (full retail) customer.

Another implication of mobile shopping is the in-store time. The mobile shopping process is more iterative, with the consumer shopping more frequently and consistently, although not always in the physical store. They can shop anytime, from anywhere.

Shoppers over Black Friday weekend shopped more frequently -- which dropped the average order value by five percent -- and the number of items of the order dropped by 12 percent on Thanksgiving, says IBM’s research.

While waiting for the rest of the consumer market to go mobile, retailers' bottom lines may be subsidized by the non-mobile shopper.

3 comments about "Subsidized By The Non-Mobile Shopper".
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  1. Suzy Sandberg from, November 28, 2012 at 3:23 p.m.

    Great article. Thanks! I think some of us in the industry were in stores watching others showroom rather than shopping! I read this article on the Amazon comparison shopping app in yesterday's NY Post. The reported doesn't live our life, so it was an interesting perspective coming purely from the consumer side.

  2. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, November 28, 2012 at 5:28 p.m.

    Thanks Suzi. Yes, very interesting piece, thanks for sharing. Still quite a spread in the market.

  3. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, November 28, 2012 at 5:30 p.m.

    Yes, Timo, still along way to go regarding mobile shopping behavior. The in-store experience is only one part of the mobile shopping activity, as you obviously recognize.

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