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Black Friday: Reshaping your mobile strategy?

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday – and the many days running up to it, and even perhaps the many days between it and Christmas – tell you all you need to know about what your mobile strategy should be.

So what did we learn that you can put into practice?

Shoppers want mobile

One of the key lessons to come out of the Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend was that shoppers want mobile. In fact, were it not for mobile sales across this much hyped weekend would have been way lower than expected, finds a study by SimilarWeb.

Much of the growth of mobile came from top line retailers such as John Lewis and M&S , both of which saw huge retail traffic to mobile.

Why has this happened? Well, Black Friday in particular was about timely bargains and with the mobile so close to hand, that is what people reached for to get those deals. It also affected app use, as we shall see.

But this move towards mobile may not just be a blip around the Cyber Weekend shopping frenzy. The latest figures from IMRG show that 45% of online sales in the whole of Q3 came from mobile. It has plateaued, but now it is growing again.

Are apps on the up?

Perhaps the most interesting thing to emerge – so far! – from the Cyber rush and the run up to Christmas has been how shopping from apps has started to gain some traction. Apps have always been a curious fish in the retail pool: most retailers have them, but shoppers tend not to be return app users.

That all looks to be changing. Two separate studies of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping found that more and more people are turning to apps to shop.

In the US, m-commerce platform provider GPShopper found that app usage and sales were at an all-time high over the weekend, with traffic, revenue and number of orders increasing up to 392% year-over-year.

Furthermore, in-store app usage reached an all-time high, clocking in at five-times the amount of in-store visit typically reported during the holiday.

The figures are born out by a separate study by app commerce platform provider Poq [IRDX VPOQ], which found that, twice as many shoppers were using its apps than the associated m-web site on Black Friday and that conversion rate on apps was 60% higher than on desktop. At one point on Black Friday a Poq client was entertaining 12,000 simultaneous apps users.

Apps it seems are attractive for ‘special event’ shopping as the user is ready and waiting and has fired up the app in time for the sales to begin. This could well be the beginning of a new mode in online retailing, where apps come into their own around ‘appointment shopping’. We may have to wait until after the January sales to see if this happens again.

M-sites working well

Importantly, most top 25 retailer mobile websites performed really well over the cyber weekend. When we looked at them we found that only two appeared to be having problems, with River Island being down for an hour or so and Waitrose offering a 404 message that told shoppers to go to the main website on a desktop.

This is great news for retailers – certainly the top 25 in our IRUK500 – and shows that many have the basics right and had properly stressed tested both online and the mobile components of their e-commerce sites before the big weekend.

So what’s the plan?

These three interesting mobile trends to come out of the Cyber Weekend can help retailers shape their mobile strategy for 2016. Here are some tips:

  • The first thing is that you have to be mobile and you have to get it right, as shoppers are, slowly but surely, going mobile. No, that isn’t at the total expense of desktop, but it will erode it.

  • Site up time on mobile is crucial and if it goes down make sure you have a m-optimised 404 page that tells shoppers to go to your main site on a desktop.

  • Apps are likely to play an increasing role in your mobile strategy. I never thought I would type those words, but there you have it. Apps have been increasingly used over the weekend which may well prompt their increased use in ordinary times. Even if not, they may well play an increasing role in ‘appointment shopping’….

  • … which brings me neatly to point four: the combination of hype around Black Friday, consumer hunger/expectation for bargains and the increasing use of mobile to shop anywhere will see new shopping habits, such as ‘appointment shopping’ emerge. This will see consumers primed and ready for deals at certain times and the time and the deal will dictate the device and even how that device is used. This in turn will create new shopping ‘events’ through the year.

  • Be prepared for new tech in 2016! Cyber Weekend 2015 has taught us much, my hunch is that there will be a boom in wearable tech over 2016 which may well change the shape of Black Friday, Cyber Monday in 2016 and beyond. Be prepared.

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