With the first week of the holiday shopping season down, one thing is still very clear: people love to shop.
The proof is in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday data:
- According to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, Black Friday drew 89 million shoppers, up from 86 million last year, and the estimated total spending over the weekend reached $59.1 billion.
- Cyber Monday was also a huge success for retailers, with ComScore estimating consumers spent $1.46 billion on that day alone, making it one of the heaviest online shopping days in history.
- E-commerce sales also reached record highs with 57 million shoppers visiting online retail sites on Black Friday alone and sales gushed over $1 billion for the first time ever.
However, the real winner over the holiday weekend was mobile devices, with mobile transactions increasing more than 96 percent since 2011 and browsing of retail sites on mobile devices increased to 24%. For example, online retail site Etsy reported that 1 in 3 of its website visitors were shopping from mobile devices, compared to 1 in 4 on a normal day.
This early success of the 2012 holiday shopping season is confirming two core themes we have discussed here before: we’re in a multichannel world and mobile will continue to play an increasingly vital role in the customer experience.
While many retailers are aware of these two realities, those that will be successful understand that in order to increase revenue and build a quality customer experience, they need to be where their customers are. As Marcus Wohlsen called out in a Wired post earlier this week, “the smartest stores recognize that they can’t go all-in in either online or offline shopping, and moreover, shouldn’t bother to maintain the fiction that there’s any clear line dividing the two.”
The point Marcus makes in his article is critical. Customers are relying on several forms of technology to connect with a brand and have a fuller, more comprehensive experience. Rather than simply go into a store and make a purchasing decision on the spot, customers are using their mobile devices to scan for product availability, surveying their social networks to get a feel for the quality of a product or going online to see if other customers are satisfied.
For customers, there is no longer a silver bullet channel that will encourage a purchase because retail success is now going to be the sum of the customers’ experiences across every channel. Mobile and online retail traffic will absolutely continue to rise, but the holiday shopping data from this past week should reemphasize that now more than ever, retailers must gain a deeper understanding of their customers’ preferences. When retailers understand how and where the customer connects with the business throughout their entire lifecycle, they are able to generate a strong sales pipeline as well as create a loyal, returning customer.
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