Mobile Commerce leads the way for Black Friday shoppers

The numbers are out and it’s official: Cyber Monday 2015 was the largest ever online sales day in the US, with $3.07 billion in sales. Putting this into context, that’s almost $1 billion more than just two years ago in 2013.

As Adobe reports, this weekend also highlighted a “huge move to mobile.” Approximately one-third of the weekend’s online sales came from mobile devices (compared to only 3.2% in 2010) and almost 60% of online traffic on Black Friday came from mobile devices. Contrarily, actual foot traffic and brick-and-mortar sales were down slightly on Black Friday, leading analysts to argue that mobile shopping both saved the big day and will ultimately lead to its demise.

While we’re still at the stage when mobile plays a larger role in browsing/research than direct purchasing, the trending data is clear that mobile’s impact is growing at an incredibly fast rate and the percentage of mobile purchases is only going up. A recent study found that 76% of surveyed Canadians expected all businesses to allow them to order products or book an appointment through the web or smartphone within the next five years.

Any smart business person is no longer considering whether they should have a robust web and mobile platform to engage with their customers — but how to best implement. With that in mind, here are a few mobile strategy lessons to be learned from this year’s US Thanksgiving weekend, whether you’re a retailer or not:

The importance of mobile-only incentives

Companies with the best mobile apps realize that apps need to be more than just a better experience on a smartphone/tablet — they need to present users with a clear mobile-only advantage.

Whether it comes down to deals, special treatment or loyalty rewards, customers often need that all-too-enticing reason to take the step to download an app, let alone stay engaged. For Amazon, this meant making their best Black Friday deals (such as a $149 50” HDTV) accessible only to their mobile app users, and using notifications to let users know of limited-time-only deals.

Takeaway: No matter your industry, make sure your mobile app offers exclusive incentives that can’t be found anywhere else.

The importance of iOS to mobile commerce

While Android edges out Apple in terms of smartphone market share (marginally in the US and more significantly worldwide), this weekend has proven once again that Apple’s iOS is by far the more significant revenue generator. And not by a small margin: a whopping 79% of mobile online revenue this weekend came from iOS devices. Why is this? Not only do Apple users generally have more disposable income than Android users, they are also usually more eager to adopt new technologies and trends early on.

Takeaway: If you have to choose between platforms for your B2C mobile app launch or optimization, focus on iOS. Especially for mobile commerce.

The importance of context

The day which mobile had the highest percentage of online sales was actually Thanksgiving Day — at 37 % versus 28% on Cyber Monday.

Why was this? Look at the context and the fact that mobile is much better suited for the multi-tasking shopper needing to sneak in a few good deals between turkey and family conversations. When everyone is back at their desk on Monday morning, it’s natural that desktop numbers would rise back up.

Takeaway: With a multi-faceted digital strategy, you can make sure your offerings fit with how customers want to engage, whenever and wherever they are.

Mobile commerce will undoubtedly continue to grow dramatically in 2016, particularly since Apple just released a new Shopping category in the App Store.

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