IBM Benchmark: Multiple Screens Drive Online Holiday Sales

Black Friday online sales rose 18.9% in 2013, compared with the same period last year. Purchases during the day after the holiday eclipsed Thanksgiving Day sales early in the evening, with the key online driver pointing to multi-screen shopping across devices. Some retailers like Anthropologie sweetened the deal for consumers willing to brave the crowds with a chance to win prizes at checkout in the store.

The IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark study shows the biggest surge came from mobile sales reaching 25.8% of total online sales for Thanksgiving Day, and 21.8% for Black Friday, as consumers migrated from the dinner table to their tablets.

Thanksgiving Day online sales grew 19.7% year-over-year followed by Black Friday, with sales increasing 19% compared with the prior year. Average order value for Black Friday rose 2.2% to $135.27 compared with the prior year.

On average, retailers sent 37% more push notifications, alert messages and popup notifications from apps installed on mobile devices during the two-day period over Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, compared with daily averages during the past two months. More consumers loaded apps on to their smartphones and tablets. The average daily retail app installations grew by 23% using the same comparison, per the report.

The trend toward online purchases began prior to the holiday weekend. Mobile traffic accounted for more than 32% of all online traffic the Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving -- up more than 42% compared with last year. Mobile sales remained strong, contributing 13% to all online sales, and nearly 60% year-over-year.

Overall, this year’s holiday report tracked millions of transactions and terabytes of data from approximately 800 U.S. retail Web sites. Part of the mobile increase came from smartphones driving more than 20% of all online traffic early on, compared with tablets at a bit more than 11% -- making it the device to search the Internet and Web sites.  

When it comes to turning searches into sales early in the week, tablets drove close to 9% of all online sales -- nearly double that of smartphones, which accounted for 4.6%. Tablet users also spent on average $110.11 per order versus smartphone users, who spent on average $107.96.

As a percentage of total online sales, iOS drove four times higher total online sales compared with Android, at 10.98% vs. 2.54%, respectively. On average, iOS users spent $108.76 per order compared with Android users at $94.39. iOS also led overall traffic compared with Android, with 22% vs. 10%, respectively.

Social also played a role in ecommerce. References from Facebook averaged $60.01 per order -- about half of Pinterest referrals, which were at about $119.68 per order. Facebook referrals converted into sales at three times the rate compared with Pinterest, suggesting stronger confidence in recommendations from one network compared with the other.

The IBM Benchmark report also measures real-time trends in retail. On Tuesday, total online sales grew by close to 47% compared with a year ago. Mobile rose 63% since the prior year. The Health and Beauty category rose 46% in sales volume compared with 2012, with mobile sales contributing 107% more as well.

1 comment about "IBM Benchmark: Multiple Screens Drive Online Holiday Sales".
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  1. Hardeep Bindra from Collective, December 5, 2013 at 1:31 p.m.

    This is so interesting. Clearly something is working, and as I recently wrote for Wired (, brands are learning to better engage and target their customers. Retailers are now investing in their user data collection to develop and understand behaviors of their customers that take place before, while and after customers are on their site.

    This kind of insight into the customer and their shopping activity is really responsible for the huge increase in purchases retailers enjoyed this Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday

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