IBM Predicts Record Mobile Sales During Thanksgiving Weekend

  • November 17, 2014 at 2:40 PM EST
  • By Alicia Esposito
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Online sales are expected to increase substantially year over year over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, according to predictions from IBM. Mobile traffic and sales, however, will see the most favorable boost during the holiday weekend. 

The IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark revealed that for the first time, more than half of all online shopping traffic (53%) on Thanksgiving will come from mobile devices, a 23% boost over 2013. Sales completed via smartphones and tablets on Thanksgiving also will grow by 9% over 2013, accounting for 28% of all online sales.

Over the five-day period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, mobile browsing is expected to account for more than 48% of all online traffic, a 23% uptick over last year. Mobile sales will account for 24% of all online sales during the same period.

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“Mobile will help drive the growth in sales we expect to see over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend,” said Jay Henderson, Director of Strategy at IBM ExperienceOne, IBM’s customer engagement solution division. “This is the trend we’ve seen over the last few years but mobile is really reaching a tipping point.”

Total online sales are expected to increase 15% over the holiday weekend, with Cyber Monday experiencing the most significant year-over-year growth (15.8%), followed by Thanksgiving Day (15.6%).

Different Mobile Patterns And Preferences

Just a few years ago, mobile accounted for only a small fraction of online traffic, Henderson explained in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. But this year, “more consumers will be going from the dinner table to a mobile device, reaffirming that the concept of Couch Commerce is really taking off.”

However, retailers must take note of the distinct patterns and preferences of consumers using different mobile devices.

While smartphones are used to browse and buy, consumers can more easily navigate on and purchase items using a tablet. Validating this point, Henderson noted that smartphones will account for 30% of all mobile traffic, while twice as many mobile purchases will be finalized on tablets versus smartphones. “By nature, it’s easier to type in credit card information and shipping information on a larger device.”

Smartphones are going to be used more frequently as “companion devices” as consumers visit brick-and-mortar locations, Henderson noted. “We’re poised to see mobile play a much bigger role in the in-store experience this year,” he added. “Last year, we started to report in new metrics, such as mobile push notifications, which increased 37% year over year on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. We anticipate continued growth for those capabilities, especially when combined with in-store location information.”

The IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark also pointed to an increase in mobile app installations, especially as retailers get savvier about promoting their capabilities and overall benefits.

“On Thanksgiving and Black Friday 2013, we saw the number of consumers installing retailers’ applications soar by more than 20% year over year,” Henderson said. This year, he predicted that retailers will be incenting consumers to download their apps by offering unique promo codes and offers.

Additionally, retailers will be focusing on promoting the core capabilities of their apps. Last year, some retailers offered interactive store maps spotlighting Black Friday deals, while others provided easier access to product reviews, product details, as well as pricing tools.

“Retailers are trying to blend the in-store and online experience,” Henderson said. “So we’re definitely going to see things like QR codes being integrated as part of in-store displays.”

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