The tradition used to be: hang with the family on Thanksgiving Day; head to the stores for Black Friday deals; and then go crazy with online shopping on the office computer on Cyber Monday. But mobile devices are changing that, according to Adobe Analytics. Its analysts say that e-commerce volume on Thanksgiving itself could soon surpass Cyber Monday.
"The change happened when people had mobile devices in their hands. People want to be with their families, but if you're bored with the football game, you start shopping. Mobile is driving the growth on Thanksgiving," says Tyler White, principal analyst, Digital Index, Adobe.
While overall, retail revenue for this holiday season is expected to remain flat, there should be record growth for online sales on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, according to the Adobe Digital Index 2013 Online Shopping Forecast, released November 5.
Adobe predicts an increase of 21 percent in Thanksgiving Day online sales, totaling $1.1 billion, as well as record growth of 17 percent on Black Friday, totaling $1.6 billion. It expects consumers to spend more than $2.27 billion online on Cyber Monday, up 15 percent year-over-year.
Given the increasing dominance of mobile shopping, Adobe expects online shopping on Thanksgiving Day to overtake Black Friday within the next five years. White also believes that spending will shift from physical stores to online on Black Friday, because consumers believe they will find better prices online.
The increase in online shopping on Thanksgiving hasn't taken a bite out of Cyber Monday yet, and White thinks that's because, overall, opportunities for online shopping continue to grow.
However, Thanksgiving is very late this year, shortening the traditional shopping period between Turkey Thursday and the winter holidays, "making things really hectic for retailers," White says. With only 27 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the data shows that the late start could cost retailers $1.5 billion in potential sales.
White recommends moving promotions to the Monday before Thanksgiving to account for the shorter holiday shopping period.
"Retailers need to take advantage of this pattern," White says. To do so, "they need to convince people that the promotions earlier in the year will be as good as the ones later."
Retailers that optimize for mobile can see big benefits, the survey found: Mobile-optimized retailers will transact more than 20 percent of their sales via smartphones and tablets, a 47 percent increase year-over-year. Average retailers that do not optimize for mobile can expect only 14 percent of online revenue to be via mobile devices.
The Adobe Digital Index 2013 Online Shopping Forecast is based on analysis of close to half a trillion visits to more than 2000 retail websites over the last seven years. Adobe says that 72 percent of online sales from the top 500 US retailers are generated by companies using Adobe Analytics.
The forecast found that social media play a significant role in shopping, with 36 percent of consumers saying they will turn to social media when making their purchase decisions. Nevertheless, only 2 percent of purchases will come directly from social media sites, including Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Twitter.
White notes that consumers have started to use Pinterest to create visual wish lists.
"Parents visit the store with their kids, take a picture of items they like and post them to Pinterest. Retailers need to know how to influence things like that," he adds.
White says retailers need to do a better way of calculating the attribution of various channels, and he thinks that social media contribute more than they are credited with.
He says, "A lot of things are going on outside that 2 percent."
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.
March 19, 2014