If you were one of the 133.7 million shoppers who braved the malls and stores on Black Friday to find deals, you may have noticed smaller crowds and shorter lines. The National Retail Federation reported that Black Friday sales fell sharply this year (5.4 percent) due to the latest trend of retail sales creeping and spreading throughout the entire holiday season.
About 55 percent of this season's holiday shoppers browsed in stores or online during the long weekend, down from nearly 59 percent last year. And total spending during the big shopping weekend was forecasted to drop to $50.9 billion, down from $57.4 billion last year.
The NRF expects the declined shopping trend to continue today, as it forecasts about 127 million people to shop online, down from about 131 million who planned to shop online last year on Cyber Monday.
NRF CEO Matthew Shay points to Cyber Monday stretching for multiple days at retailers including Target, Wal-mart, Old Navy, J.C. Penney, and Kohl's, all started offering deals over the weekend.
Despite the decline in sales on these banner shopping days, some trends are pointing upward. IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark reported strong mobile sales over the weekend with mobile traffic accounting for 51.2 percent of all online traffic this past weekend, an increase of 25.5 percent year over year. Mobile sales also accounted for 28.9 percent of all online sales this past weekend, an increase of 24.9 percent, and online sales grew 17 percent compared to the same weekend in 2013.
Among that data, smartphones drove 34.5 percent of total online traffic, while sales from tablets accounted for 17.6 percent of online sales.
Jay Henderson, director, IBM Smarter Commerce, added that IBM saw mobile traffic for the first time drive more than half of online traffic on Thanksgiving, a trend that continued through the long holiday weekend. "This puts even greater importance on the ability of retailers and marketers to use real-time analytics to understand and act on shopping trends so they can give customers just the right offer at just the right time, regardless of how they browse or buy," he said.
So are marketers and retailers ready for this changing online consumer behavior? Here are three quick tips to meet consumers' growing mobile shopping behaviors.
1. Increase Focus on Social. IBM reported that over the weekend Facebook referrals drove an average of $107.91 per order, while Pinterest referrals averaged $105.25 per order. To leverage social's growing influence, get creative. Post gift guides, sweepstakes, and create video content this month to increase sales organically.
2. Join the Physical and Online Worlds. Offer mobile apps to serve as an in-store guide. Target, for example, is leveraging mobile's influence to drive consumers to its physical stores. Shoppers at Target can download a new mobile app, from Point Inside, to create shopping lists, find product locations, and determine item availability at their local store.
3. Test Location-Based Promotions. During the 2013 holiday season, Sears and K-mart used mobile coupons as a way to drive loyalty members to their "Shop Your Way" rewards program. The feature called Shop'In asked customers to check in at a store to browse merchandise and to unlock personalized deals and offers. As a result, the holiday season of 2013 saw 69 percent of sales come from members as compared to 58 percent in 2012.
Whatever your mobile strategy entails, I hope it's aligned to your physical stores as well as all your consumer channels. Wishing everyone a successful holiday season!