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e-Commerce Industry News


December 4, 2015
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4 lessons from Black Friday for an online store
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December 4, 2015
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The dust has cleared from Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and the holiday 2015 shopping season has officially started. So let's give thanks to the statisticians and pundits who've brought us the gift of analysis with which we can learn from the trends thus far. The dust has cleared from Thanksgiving,
Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and the
holiday 2015 shopping season has officially
started. So let's give thanks to the
statisticians and pundits who've brought
us the gift of analysis with which
we can learn from the trends thus far.
The dust has cleared from Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and the holiday 2015 shopping season has officially started. So let's give thanks to the statisticians and pundits who've brought us the gift of analysis with which we can learn from the trends thus far.

1. Here comes eCommerce
The buzz around late November's shopping festival has been squarely focused on eCommerce's dominance. Online stores saw record activity, according to Adobe: $4.45 billion was spent on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, and Cyber Monday alone racked up $2.98 billion in sales, each day seeing double digit growth compared to last year.

The excitement around eCommerce growth is compared to a fairly bland trend at brick-and-mortar retailers, where growth was half of what it was in 2013 and 2014: a 1.7 percent increase instead of a 3.4 percent increase in the past two years, FirstData said..

In fact, the biggest place where sales growth physical stores declined is in the wee hours of the morning on Black Friday, when many retailers - especially big box stores - have opened at or around midnight, and where customers brave long lines and the cold, dark night to get deals absolutely as soon as possible. This year, many consumers instead did late-night shopping from the comfort of home, with 2 a.m. shopping online jumping 15 percent compared to last year, while brick and mortar stores fell 21 percent.

As the convenience of online shopping offering aggressive discounts and unique features such as same-day delivery puts eCommerce on par with (or better than) its brick and mortar counterparts, consumers will continue to opt to stay inside with family.

2. Sales with a tail as big as a kite
Consumer habits are changing. Shoppers are more price-conscious, and less focused on getting major deals on products they don't need. They're spreading out their holiday shopping over multiple days, and average retail ticket sizes declined almost $30 in 2015, according to FirstData's analysis.

Even Walmart has changed its strategy - which had once extensively used timed "doorbuster" deals to keep customers steadily coming to stores - abandoned them in favor of offering all Black Friday deals at once in response to better customer planning, according to USA Today.

Many retailers chose to not just put all of their sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but on Thanksgiving and up to a week before. The New York Times reported on the trend, in which consumer shopping habits have made Black Friday no longer the be-all end-all for shopping days.

Black Friday isn't even the most lucrative shopping day of the year: that goes to Christmas procrastinators seeking redemption on December 23, according to the Times. As Black Friday wanes in importance, a Web store should ensure that it is attracting customers all throughout the holiday season instead of relying on the last days of November to carry it through Q4.

3. It's beginning to look a lot like mobile
More than a third of all online sales were on mobile during Black Friday, a 16 percent increase over 2014, Custora said. Smartphones are benefiting from that more than tablets, which actually fell 2 percent from last year. That day eCommerce was dominated by Apple's iOS, with 77 percent of all mobile purchases made on that operating system.

Despite mobile gaining ground, conversions are still an issue - even though 36 percent of Black Friday sales came from mobile, Adobe reported that it accounted for 53 percent of all online store visits. Those visits are conversions waiting to happen. Consider a strategy like Amazon's, which offered special app-only deals to get more users to try out mobile eCommerce.

4. All I want for Christmas is seamless shopping
As usual, the biggest hurdle an online store faces this holiday season is changing clicks into conversions. There is a large gap on mobile between measured traffic and sales, and an eCommerce website has to streamline the purchase process to avoid an abandoned shopping cart and lost sales.

PYMNTS and BlueSnap released their Q4 2015 Checkout Conversion Index, a measure of the friction in a customer's online shopping experience. It estimates that an online store not optimizing for mobile costs as much as 36 percent of its sales: In light of their estimated $11 billion worth of mobile sales this holiday season, optimization neglect could cost merchants almost $4 billion dollars this season alone.

A complete eCommerce solution that offers omnichannel solutions for an online store is perfect for increasing conversions, giving customers the choice to engage with a web store however they see fit, and going omnichannel helps future-proof a store against the accelerating shift from desktop to mobile.

Thanksgiving weekend is over, the leftovers have been eaten and the holiday shopping season is well underway; Merchants are already making their list and checking it twice as 2016 looms. Online stores should take note of this year's Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday retail festival as an indicator of what's to come.