Mobile traffic skyrockets, drives holiday sales

A surge in digital shopping was expected this season, but now that results are coming in one thing is clear: Shoppers are using smartphones to browse and tablets to buy in record numbers as traffic from mobile devices skyrockets.

Mobile traffic jumped 44 percent over last year according to Monetate.

Smartphones ruled when it came to browsing in stores, according to IBM's Digital Analytics Benchmark survey, driving 34.7 percent of all Black Friday online traffic, with tablets at 14.6 percent. Shoppers were more comfortable buying online as tablets drove 16 percent of online sales, compared to 11.8 percent for smartphones. And tablets won on biggest bill, as users averaged $126.50 per order and smartphone users averaged $107.55 per order.

In all, sales from smartphones set a record, according to Adobe's Thanksgiving alert, with $254 million in sales via mobile devices by early Friday morning.

And there's still plenty of room to grow. While IBM found that smartphones and tablets accounted for the majority of Web traffic for the first time (52.1 percent), Monetate reports that shoppers were more likely to use desktop computers for bigger ticket purchases.

"Mobile has become the new Thanksgiving tradition as consumers find the best deals with their fingers as well as their feet," said Jay Henderson, director, IBM Smarter Commerce. "We saw retailers harness the power of data to engage shoppers, identifying the unique preferences of their customers while quickly capitalizing on online, mobile or in-store trends as they emerged."

Mobile Web beat out apps as the most popular means of accessing retail sites, accounting for 97 percent of sales with just 3 percent of mobile traffic coming from retailers' apps, according to Skava.

The past several holiday seasons, mobile devices have largely been used for browsing (tablets) or comparing prices in stores (smartphones), but 2014 could well be the watershed year when mobile retail comes into its own. A new report from Juniper Research has found that mobile phone and tablet users will make 195 billion mobile commerce transactions annually by 2019, up from 72 billion this year. Based on Black Friday weekend results, this could be a conservative prediction.

For more:
-See this IBM press release 
-See this Juniper Research white paper
-See this Skava report

Related stories:
Black Friday apps: Deals are important, but customer experience is the priority
50% of Thanksgiving Day online shopping will be mobile
91% of shoppers to make mobile purchase this holiday
68% of retailers not investing in mobile for Holiday 2014
Mobile 51% of online retail visits

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