Commentary

Half Of Online Browsing, Quarter Of Sales Over Thanksgiving Will Be Mobile

Thanksgiving is almost here, and in addition to inhaling too much turkey and white wine (try some Gewürztraminer!) Americans will be buying mountains of gifts for their loved ones -- and if they’re anything like me, probably themselves too. It’s no secret that in recent years a growing proportion of this business has been conducted online, and in line with broader trends, more of this activity is coming from mobile. 

Indeed, according to IBM, for the first time ever this year, mobile devices will account for more than half (53%) of all visits to e-commerce sites during the Thanksgiving holiday season, beginning Thanksgiving Day and extending through “Cyber Monday.” That’s up from 39.7% last year. Overall, IBM expects total online sales to increase 15% this year.

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Just about half (48.2%) of all online product browsing will be on mobile devices, almost double last year’s figure. Within this figure, smartphones will contribute 29% and tablets 15% of all online browsing activity. Here the proportion of sales actually completed on mobile devices should increase from 21.8% last year to 24.4% this year. But as in previous years, tablets will account for a larger proportion of actual sales.

Last year, smartphones accounted for 7.2% of all online sales and tablets accounted for 14.4%, according to the company’s 2013 Black Friday report.

Tablets also had a longer session length -- at 7 minutes 29 seconds -- versus 4 minutes, 36 seconds for smartphones, and a higher conversion rate at 4.25%, compared to 1.4% for smartphones. Tablets also won on order value, with an average purchase made on tablets coming to $132.75, versus $115.63 for smartphones. Meanwhile, the average online order overall was $135.27.

According to comScore, last year spending by online shoppers using desktops and laptops came to $5.3 billion for the five-day period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. Combining this with IBM’s figures, total mobile spending in 2013 can be estimated to come to around $1.4 billion. That figure is compared with total brick-and-mortar retail sales of $22.2 billion, per ShopperTrak.

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