Mobile Consumers Move Thanksgiving Sales Online

It might seem counterintuitive that the holiday created to give thanks is followed – or some might say overshadowed – by an all out assault of sales and incentives to spend money.  But who are we to judge; if one really wanted to play devil’s advocate, it could be argued that thanks should be given everyday (!) While we won’t highlight perhaps the more holiday appropriate altruistic feats of others, we will dive into the other Thanksgiving tradition known as Black Friday.

Baked into the name is a reference to when retailers started to turn a profit, or “in the black,” which typically happened around November.  In an effort to bolster retail sales, coupled with the advent of online shopping, Cyber Monday soon entered our lexicon and now the Holiday shopping season hits full stride online and off before the turkey even hits the table.  For very obvious reasons, the convenience of online shopping has alleviated some of the desire to deal with people en masse and brave the elements.  Expanding the convenience theme further is the rapid adoption of mobile shopping.

Black FridayA lot of shopping on Black Friday still happens in brick and mortar stores – and certainly news agencies still give thanks for those b-roll shots of crazed people stampeding through the doors of Walmart, Best Buy, Target, etc.  That said, the trend towards shopping online has only gained steam with major growth in the mobile segment.  Speaking of which, if you sell online and you’ve neglected your mobile presence you might want to put that on the urgent list.  We’ll shelve that for later but we’re certain this post will push you over the edge if you haven’t dove head first into mobile thus far.

According to Custora’s Holiday 2014 report, mobile shopping now accounts for over a fifth of online sales.  That same report states that “23.3% of e-commerce orders were made on mobile phones or tablets in the first three weeks of the 2014 holiday shopping season, up from 17.1% in the same period in 2013.”  These numbers support the trend that doesn’t take much scientific data to support- just look around and see how many people are glued to their phones.  With essentially a small computer at their fingertips, consumers are opting for the ease of smartphones and tablets to make purchases.  And with that convenience tucked in your pocket, you don’t have to stray far from the dinner table to get your shop on.  A recent article in Forbes magazine cites a study published by Adobe, which forecasts that 31% of e-commerce transactions – with an estimated worth of $418 million – will be completed via smartphone and tablet on Thanksgiving Day alone.  The article goes on to say that the more well established shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday will still account for “many more millions of dollars” but the forecast specifically for Thanksgiving Day is worth noting for many reasons.

What was once considered “risky” is now supported by data that most consumers are comfortable and/or prefer shopping online.  And mobile follows this evolutionary trend of ‘what’s next.’  As smartphones and tablets get smaller and more powerful, both mobile traffic and e-commerce will only continue to grow.  The common denominator to all of this is of course the convenience of mobile, which brings us back to Thanksgiving Day.  Shopping now happens in sweatpants while perched on the couch in a Tryptophan coma.  As referenced above, if you sell online and haven’t yet sketched out your mobile strategy, you might want to start.  Need more convincing?  The Custora Pulse‘s statistics from April 2014 reported mobile e-commerce was up 35% over first quarter 2013.  Your customers are window shopping while shoveling cranberry sauce in their face. Knowing this, you need to make sure that your online customers can not only find you, but easily purchase your products through a mobile-friendly site.

Since, after all, there is a ‘giving thanks’ undertone to all of this, let’s end by trying to find selfless value in the hyper consumerism.  Maybe the ease and convenience of mobile shopping will entice people to stay home with loved ones instead of spending hours sleeping on inhospitable concrete and then elbowing strangers to get that last Dyson vacuum.  Sneak in a quick shopping trip from your phone or tablet and then go back to eating turkey sandwiches and watching Charlie Brown Thanksgiving with the family.

Who knows, maybe one day Black Friday will become a memory of the distant past and crazed Thanksgiving shopping will only exist via the internet.  With objections such as these from a few major retailers resisting – actually refusing – to open on Thanksgiving, theres no telling what the future holds.

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