Black Friday Results

Michele Warg
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Black Friday 2014 set new shopping records, according to data released by IBM. The data, which includes more than 370 performance indicators, revealed that customers in 2014 were more likely to shop using a mobile device than a PC than in previous years.

The IBM data revealed that mobile browsing on Thanksgiving overtook browsing from a PC or desktop for the first time in 2014, with 52.1 percent of shoppers using a smartphone or tablet to search for deals. The number of mobile shoppers surged even higher on Black Friday. Total online sales on Black Friday 2014 were 9.5 percent higher than sales last year, with mobile users accounting for 49.6 percent of traffic and making one in every four online purchases. The IBM Smarter Commerce Director Jay Henderson described mobile commerce as "the new Thanksgiving tradition," saying that consumers took to their phones and tablets to find the best holiday deals.

The data collected by IBM breaks down the mobile shopping trend still further, with data for smartphones and tablets presented separately. One interesting finding is that although smartphones accounted for more than twice as much traffic as tablets on Black Friday 2014, tablet users made a larger number of purchases. While smartphone users were responsible for just 11.8 percent of online sales on America's favorite shopping day, tablet users accounted for a much larger 16 percent. Tablet users also spent more on average in their mobile shopping transactions.

Do these findings mean that desktops are losing importance as channels for online shopping? Not necessarily. Although desktops fell behind mobile devices in terms of their share of Thanksgiving traffic for the first time in 2014, desktop users spent on average 16.6 percent more per order than mobile shoppers.

Android and iOS devices both accounted for large fractions of online sales, but iOS appears to have retained its lead over Android. Users of Apple's operating system had higher average order values, accounted for a greater share of online traffic and generated higher volumes of online sales.

Unsurprisingly, New York City retained the top spot for online shopping on Black Friday 2014. Some other big-spending cities included the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.; Atlanta, Ga., Chicago, Ill.; and Los Angeles, Calif. These cities also saw some of the highest rates of in-store sales, matching predictions that Black Friday 2014 would be the busiest ever recorded.

IBM's data provides many useful insights for retailers, such as indicating how much of their resources they should dedicate to catering to online and mobile shoppers. Although in-store promotions continue to generate excitement, the growing trend of online sales on Black Friday 2014 suggests that retailers should focus on their e-commerce efforts during this busy shopping time.


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