Commentary

Black Friday E-Commerce Soars, But Social's Contribution Remains Small

As expected, e-commerce sales on Black Friday soared as more holiday shoppers turned to the Web for gifts and personal indulgence, according to the E-Commerce Pulse survey from Custora, which tracked over 100 big U.S. retailers and 100 million online shoppers during the famed shopping day. However social media continues to contribute just a small portion of total e-commerce sales, lagging far behind channels like email and search.

Total online sales for Black Friday in 2014 grew 20.6% compared to 2013, Custora found, up from 17.8% growth in the 2012-2013 figures. However social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest contributed just 1.7% of total e-commerce sales. By comparison email contributed 27.3% of total online sales, followed by 18.9% originating from free search, and 18.5% from paid search marketing.

Mobile’s share of Black Friday e-commerce activity continued to grow, accounting for 30.3% of all online shopping in 2014, up from 22.5% in 2013. Apple still dominated by a huge margin, with 76.8% of all shopping taking place on devices using Apple iOS, compared to 22.7% for Android devices -- but the balance here is shifting, as Apple’s figure is down from 83.4% in 2013 and Android’s up from 15.8%.

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In October Accenture released the results of a survey that found that just 13% of respondents said they plan to use social network sites to make purchases or otherwise assist them in their gift shopping this year; that’s a modest 2% increase from 11% in 2013 and 8% in 2012.

Indeed, the Custora survey results suggest social media’s role in Black Friday has changed little over the last few years. In 2013 an IBM study found that social sites contributed just 1% of total traffic to e-commerce sites on Black Friday as well as the week prior to it.

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