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Entrenched wisdom goes awry

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While we are all sifting through the data for the finer points, we can safely say that Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Manic Monday – and let’s not forget Cyber Saturday and, indeed, Boomerang Wednesday – all proved to be an e-commerce bonanza. It also showed us quite a lot about where mobile fits into the consumer mindset.

I am still sifting reams of data on Manic Monday – more of which just before Christmas in my last epistle of the year from Internet Retailing Towers’ penthouse HQ – but Black Friday and Cyber Monday have shown that there is a huge amount of browsing being done on mobile.

This you would expect, as the entrenched wisdom within the retail industry is that mobile is a browsing tool. And the figures for these mad shopping days in the run up to Christmas lend that some weight. Black Friday traffic on mobile has outstripped online, but these have been browsers who have then gone on the shop in store on Cyber Saturday (which needs a better name, coming as it does two days before Cyber Monday: how about Spendtastic Saturday?).

We also see that showrooming on mobile – again a browsing researching approach to using the tech – is also going to be rife this Yuletide.

However, dig a little deeper into more general e-commerce stats outside of these artificial peaks and into the more average data of how people shop overall and you find some surprising things.

Interestingly, we see that across the world 27% of e-commerce sales (not traffic, but actual purchases) come from mobile. In the US, the top 25% of retailers are seeing as much as 40% of sales coming through mobile. The industry may want to think it’s a research tool, but it isn’t.

This is sort of backed up in its own small way by UK t-shirt printing company SpreadShirt, which has seen 50% of its sales come through mobile – before it optimised for the channel. It is now looking at 60% thanks to having an optimised mobile approach.

What has also become interesting in this festival of statistics is that smartphones are driving this charge, not tablets. Tablets are increasingly just a replacement for the laptop or desktop PC of old. They come with their own challenges, but their usage is pretty much confined to the home when it comes to e-commerce.

What we are seeing increasingly is the use of the smartphone as an e-commerce tool. And this means that consumers are shopping spontaneously when doing other things.

So it may not have been a totally mobile Christmas, but it will be a pretty mobile new year – and perhaps one where conventional wisdom about how people are going to browse, shop – and perhaps most importantly of all get marketed to – is set to change. It will be interesting to see what the situation is like come Christmas 2015.

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