It seems that retailers not only got an early start with holiday sales and promotions this year through paid search and shopping ads, but had a slightly different approach. Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, Best Buy and others seemed to push consumers to their Web sites and into the physical stores through buy-online and pick up-in-store campaigns.
This might explain why e-commerce sales rose 9% to $1.1 billion on Thanksgiving Day and 10% to $1.7 billion on Black Friday, per comScore.
The uptick began early in November when Rakuten Marketing saw a 5% year-over-year increase in purchases, with ad-browsing activity. Clicks rose 24% and engagement rates rose 53%, suggesting that shoppers were searching for early holiday deals or for what they would buy later in the month.
Rakuten notes that on Thanksgiving Day, 51% of purchases occurred after 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST). Transactions spiked at 7 p.m., with 10 p.m. the peak spending time.
A little more than half of site visits occurred on mobile devices -- 37% from smartphones and 14% from tablets. Smartphone traffic briefly surpassed desktop traffic from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. EST.
Smartphones played a stronger role this year when it came to the consumers' shopping journeys on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Some 46% of all purchases made on those days originated and converted on a smartphone, and 26% originated on a smartphone and converted on a desktop.
Desktop-to-desktop conversions made up only 8% of purchase paths those days, vs. 30% of purchase paths for the rest of November.
Data from HookLogic, which supports retail Web sites like Target, looks very similar. Thanksgiving Day ecommerce traffic rose 2.7 times and conversions jumped 4.2 times the October daily average for retail stores. Black Friday online traffic jumped 4.5 times the average; and conversions, 6.2 times the average.
Mobile devices took the biggest share of online traffic, at 71% vs. desktop at 29%, at 7 am E.S.T. on Thanksgiving Day.
Orders grew 15.6% on Black Friday 2015, compared with the prior year. Some 36.1% were placed on mobile, phones and tablets, up from 30.3% on Black Friday 2014.
Online conversions jumped 9.8-times the daily average at noon EST on Black Friday, and the U.K. saw the rise of "Midnight
Shoppers" who drove up ecommerce traffic by 330 times greater than the average early morning hour, 1 a.m. Overall, ecommerce revenue rise 16.1% on Black Friday 2015 compared with the prior year.
Some 77.6% of all orders made on mobile devices occurred on Apple devices, while 22.1% occurred on Android devices.
Email marketing was the primary channel
driving online sales, accounting for 25.1% of transactions.
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest only drove 1.7% of sales.