We know the peak times to send email promotions, the most crowded hours for in-store foot traffic, and when the most conversions will happen. But, there is a lot that happens before a shopper walks in the door of a store or before they make a purchase online or offline! Retailers that can gain clarity around their shoppers’ product discovery habits (the ways shoppers research and decide on the right product) have a more well-rounded picture of today’s multi-channel shopper who uses an average of at least two channels to make a purchase decision.
We have a unique view into shoppers’ product discovery trends, and were excited to watch how things played out during this Thanksgiving holiday. We looked at whether typical discovery patterns for retail shoppers in our network would remain the same or differ during the five days that encompass Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday from a typical weekend. To examine this we took a look at usage of our Adaptive Experience Platform hour-by-hour for both the Holiday weekend and the average non-holiday weekend.
Not surprisingly, we found that online product discovery was occurring at a much higher rate than an average day, but there were two very clear deviations. On both Black Friday and Cyber Monday traffic spiked between 8–11pm CST. This isn’t surprising given that more people purchase online later in the day on Black Friday and Cyber Monday according to Adobe Digital Index Market Research. Last year online sales on these days peaked during the later hours of the evening between 7–11pm CST.
We had hypothesized that web-rooming would occur at a high rate the evening before Black Friday. After all, recent surveys from the consulting firms Deloitte found that nearly 70% of shoppers webroom before they buy. Surprisingly, the discovery patterns we saw did not support this hypothesis. It does, however hint that retailers’ increased focus on online promotions for Thanksgiving and Black Friday paid off. According to NRF’s Thanksgiving Weekend Spending Survey, 46.7% of people shopped online on Black Friday, which IBM’s 2014 Black Friday Report says is 9.5% higher than 2013.
We also looked at what role mobile played as a percentage of all traffic during this timeframe. Again, mobile usage during the holidays followed a similar pattern as non-holiday weeks with the exception of Thanksgiving and Black Friday. On these two days the mobile percentage of traffic displayed more like a typical weekend day. This also aligns with the IBM findings that on Thanksgiving day, browsing on smartphones and tablets accounted for 52.1% of all online traffic, and online sales that day were up 14.3% compared to 2013. Smartphones accounted for 34.7% of all Black Friday Web traffic and 11% of sales.
Mobile percentage of traffic remained high through the 8am hour on Black Friday where on a typical weekday we would see mobile’s percentage start to dip off around 5am. Given that this timeframe closely aligns with many retailers Black Friday doorbuster deals it is likely that this mobile traffic is driven in part by those seeking the best deals in stores. This is consistent with a recent study from Retale that found that 73% of consumers were planning to use mobile devices for shopping activities this holiday season with 69% of consumers saying they expected to use mobile devices to find deals while in and outside of stores to compare products, research and access coupons.
It’s very exciting to see online sales strong with Thanksgiving passing the $1 billion mark (32% higher than 2013) and Black Friday passing $1.5 billion (26% higher than 2013). With the National Retail Federation reporting overall retail sales down 11% for the period, online may have to help bridge the sales gap.