You couldn't have made it through the past month without hearing one prediction after another about the importance of mobile commerce this holiday season. And guess what? Everyone who emphasized that optimizing for mobile was an essential retail strategy was apparently right, according to early insight from IBM.
The Race is On
According to the latest cloud-based IBM Digital Analytics Holiday Benchmark, retailers increasingly rely on "data-driven insight to engage their customers, online and in the moment, with personalized deals across screens and mobile devices." Translation: Monday online sales increased by double-digits over Thanksgiving week last year.
IBM is providing data in real-time throughout the Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas holidays. Today's statistics, based on analysis of millions of transactions and terabytes of raw data from about 800 retail sites nationwide, confirm trends everyone seems to have expected.
Customers are shopping online, using their smartphones and tablets more and more and relying on referrals from friends on social networks like Facebook and Pinterest. The data shows:
Shoppers referred from Facebook averaged $79.12 per order, which was 16.5 percent lower than Pinterest referrals, which drove $92.18 per order. However, Facebook referrals converted sales at a 2.6 percent higher rate than Pinterest referrals, perhaps indicating stronger confidence in network recommendations."
What are the hottest retail categories right now? According to IBM:
- Department Stores: Monday total online sales grew by close to 72 percent over 2012, with mobile sales growing by 54 percent year-over-year.
- Health and Beauty: Monday total online sales grew by nearly 38 percent over 2012, with mobile sales growing by nearly 89 percent year-over-year.
- Home Goods: Monday total online sales grew by close to 19 percent over 2012, with mobile sales growing by 34 percent year-over-year.
- Apparel: Monday total online sales grew by close to 15 percent over 2012, with mobile sales growing by close to 49 percent year-over-year.
How can you catch customers? There are multiple lures: offer good prices, make shopping convenient and engage with them on social media.
According to Yesmail, a provider of enterprise email marketing software, today -- the Tuesday before Thanksgiving Day -- is the best day for social media engagement for Black Friday deals. But most major retailers Yesmail analyzed apparently don't understand that.
The reality: The Tuesday before Thanksgiving was the fourth-most popular day of Thanksgiving week to deploy campaigns last year and accounted for only 14 percent of brands’ Black Friday Facebook posts and tweets. The data suggests marketers are missing an opportunity to boost sales, Yesmail maintains. Yesmail analyzed almost 450 Black Friday campaigns on Facebook and Twitter from last year using Yesmail's Market Intelligence tool to determine the best and worst days for engagement with Black Friday deals.
The clock is ticking and there is no time to waste. Here's a cheat sheet on what you can do to help drive sales this holiday season.
- Optimize for mobile: Adobe predicts mobile-optimized US retailers will transact more than 20 percent of their online sales via mobile devices -- a new record -- while the average retailer can expect closer to 14 percent of sales via mobile.
- Mobile is big in other parts of the globe, too. The percentage of shoppers who plan to rely on their mobile devices in other places, according to Adobe: Germany 12 percent, Great Britain 21 percent and France 10 percent.
- Give it away: 41 percent of women go to brick-and-mortar stores to save on shipping costs, according to PriceGrabber.
- Make it easy: Nearly six in 10 customers expect to use self-help technologies in-store when holiday shopping with price checkers and self-checkout the most common, Deloitte reports.
- Don't make 'em wait: Nine in 10 US consumers will likely turn to another retailer in the future if an item is delivered late, notes a study from Capgemini, a global provider of consulting, technology and outsourcing services.
- Respect the bird: Thanksgiving Day is the worst day to try to engage customers, YesMail warns.
- Bright and early: Sixty one percent plan to shop in the morning on Cyber Monday, PriceGrabber estimates.
What strategies do you have in place to get your fair share of customers this year?
Title image by Ivelin Radkov(Shutterstock).