Black Friday has come and gone but what, if anything, can we learn from that shopping event this year? Can real-time advertising close the gap between mobile traffic and actual purchases at a peak shopping period like Black Friday?
There are gaps between mobile and desktop conversions, and between online and in-store, that are largely driven by mobile.
Magnetic, a provider of data and real-time insights, examined mobile traffic vis-à-vis Black Friday sales and found that traffic coming to retailers from the mobile Web increased this year.
In addition, during the course of 2016, Magnetic data shows that mobile has steadily gained share—it comprised up 44% of store visits in Q1, 50% in Q2, and reached up to 53% of visits in Q3. Overall, the company said Black Friday mobile visits were up nearly 25% year-over-year.
However, Magnetic found that mobile conversion rates are typically less than 50% of desktop conversion rates. Even with increased mobile traffic, it expects to see a decline in conversion rates from mobile. For example, 64% of Black Friday visits were initiated on a mobile device, but only 45% of orders placed were from a mobile device, representing a big gap between usage and actual purchasing via mobile. Consumers are starting their shopping journeys on mobile but not converting on their devices.
Magnetic also found that increased traffic fueled by mobile began to generate more order count and revenue across both mobile and desktop. Combined for mobile and desktop, it saw increases in 2016 compared to 2015 at multiple points throughout the Thanksgiving deal-focused weekend, which included the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Orders increased 3% in 2016, with total online sales (TOS) up 2%. The number of orders placed on Thanksgiving day increased 11%, with TOS up 5%, On Black Friday orders rose 14%, with TOS up 8%. Overall Cyber Monday orders increased 2% with TOS up 4%.
In addition, Black Friday 2016 showed a 35% increase in mobile orders placed and a 34% increase for TOS compared to 2015, while data for Cyber Monday, shows a 42% increase in mobile orders and 45% increase in TOS in 2016 vs. 2015.
“The main point is that mobile is driving growth, which is promising, but since we know that people are still not converting on mobile at the same rate as desktop, online has yet to really reach its full potential,” said Jamie Fishler, VP of marketing, Magnetic. Consumers, she said, are not 100% comfortable placing their orders on mobile, therefore retailers aren’t seeing online sales reach their full potential. She projected that next year may be different if marketers implement better mobile experiences and as consumers become more comfortable with converting on smaller screens.
Real-time advertising, Fishler said, has a role to play in improving the mobile experience. Marketers can improve their mobile sites, transactional experiences, and implement a real-time data strategy that spans devices and channels, with the potential to reach consumers before they leave a site without converting.
Triggered emails or personalized retargeting that’s tailored to a consumer’s behavior can help improve mobile’s contribution to online sales. In order to help increase conversion, retailers need to optimize their sites for a mobile shopping experience and not simply use the desktop shopping experience on mobile devices.
“Checkout processes that were originally built for desktop aren’t right for mobile and there are simply too many steps to complete a purchase,” said Fishler. She said part of the solution is to reduce the number of steps needed to convert and create mobile optimized checkout processes.
The bottom line: The path to purchase is dependent on cross-screen engagement and personalization. People expect to receive personalized information about the products they want in real time on any screen.