A Mobile Weekend Like No Other

After taking a gander at a variety of retail numbers over the weekend, I landed on IBM’s U.S. Retail Black Friday Report, which, in keeping with recent trends, was released earlier than in any past year.  Did my hypothesis about mobile pervasiveness play out? 

I’d say, YES!   BlackFriday sales were up 8.5% over 2013,  with over 20% of sales coming from Apple IOS: mobile devices.  Mobile represented 47% of all online traffic, with a whopping 24.2% growth over 2013 Black Friday.  Thanksgiving was a first, though, when mobile traffic accounted for more than half of online traffic.  Yes, that’s right -- mobile traffic!   

Let me ask you something: Did you think mobile-first this season when planning this year?    If not, you are probably kicking yourself wondering if you could have optimized another 5% out of the weekend.



Mobile is the “I want it now,” out-of-home shopping experience, but not necessarily the conversion tool of choice  (smartphone conversion rate is 1.73%, compared to 4.73% (tablet) and 5.8% (desktop).

While the mobile device was core for on-site browsing, store locating, and comparison shopping,  marketers paid the price if not prepared.  Best Buy’s Web site crashed multiple times over the weekend. While mobile devices drove a larger share of traffic, tablets drove more value for retailers, with an average order value of  $126.50 vs. $107.55 for smartphones -- but don’t blame this on Apple. If you dig just below the surface, you’ll see   Apple IOS had a higher average order values $121 vs. $98 for that of an Android user, but it also drove  twice as much traffic and 4X more sales.

I think you get the drift.  Mobile is not just a trend. It’s pervasive to the shopping experience, and marketers and vendors should think mobile first down the entire consumer shopping value chain.  

While much of this is not surprising, what should it tell you about what to do for the remainder of the holiday season?

1.     Your mobile site needs some love.   It’s not a secondary site; people do buy on their devices, and  mobile is one of the major support functions  for buyer intent.   Maximize that experience for gesture and screen size. Most importantly, personalize that experience from inbox to shopping cart.

2.     The app is not a destination, but instead a connector to a conversion experience.  If you aren’t tracking behavior within your app , email and mobile web you are missing part of the funnel.

3.     “Buy Now “and “Buy Here” don’t mean the same thing.   The mobile shopping experience has transcended buying intent and now offers choice and convenience to the consumer.  Line too long?  Buy it online now!   If customer service is poor, post a review and share the experience before you leave the parking lot.

4.     Mobile email is all about timing.  Pole position  -- as we used to call it -- is likely not the best term given new tabbed experiences, but there is no denying a continual trend we are seeing: Mobile impressions and clicks are immediate at the point of send.

5.     Give some love to Apple and covet the user.  It’s not the device of choice of your parents anymore. Such a divide in device performance is not something to ignore.

Match all these behaviors, and you have new segments that you seriously need to think about targeting. Before you go out and segment all your iPhone users and create new offers for your mobile website, remember what Albert Einstein said: “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I’d spent the first 55 minutes determining the proper questions to ask.”

 Can you segment individuals by past mobile behavior? Is this population large enough for you to actually care ?  Does this information mirror any data you have in -house? How confident are you that you’re  tracking the complete funnel?    Are you retargeting the same consumer who did not buy?  Are you optimizing for the Apple consumer?

Keep pressing the ceiling. We’ve only begun the holiday season, but it’s off to a nice start!

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