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Mobile is king of Black Friday and the peak to come

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While many may have written Black Friday off as a damp squib for the high street this year, mobile tells a different story, declaring itself very much king of the peak.

According to several sources, mobile was the shopping tool of choice for Black Friday (and what remains of Cyber Monday) and looks set to cement its position as the king pin in online retail over the coming holiday season.

IMRG figures show that the amount spent on UK online retail sites on Black Friday 2017 was up +11.7% to £1.39bn, according to data from IMRG. This was ahead of the original forecast of +9% growth for the day. Of that spend, 39% was completed on a smartphone, with the device taking the highest share of sales against desktop and tablet.

While this is not the first time this device has accounted for the highest share, it is unusual given Friday was a standard working day (people tend to use the device of most convenience, and many would have had access to their desktops at work).

Figures from vouchercloud suggest similar. According to its numbers, shoppers accessed vouchercloud offers more via mobile across the Cyber Weekend than any other device, with an average of 63% of traffic coming via mobile between 24th and 26th.

Some 27% came through desktop and 10% through tablet on Black Friday itself. The share in desktop was driven by a sharp peak between 9am-11am as people got to work. Desktop was vouchercloud’s fastest growing device type for Black Friday YOY because of this, up 93%.

Mobile has also shaped how shopping takes place across Black Friday, according to the vouchercloud analysis of sales. Pre-6am traffic for was up 300% on a typical day and 40% higher than Black Friday 2016. Midnight also showed the biggest spike, with twice as many shoppers (+103.95%) hitting the vouchercloud website between midnight and 1am as last Black Friday, and 277% more than a typical day.

People also wake up earlier for Black Friday deals, with traffic between 6am and 7am up a massive 442% on a typical day. Shoppers tend to stay up later the night before too for the ‘last night before check’ – traffic between 10pm and midnight was up 55% compared to 2016.

Interestingly, on Black Friday the click to transaction time – the amount of time between a user clicking on an offer and making a purchase – is much tighter versus a normal day with the majority of transactions taking place with seven minutes of the initial click. This is driven by a fear of missing out (FOMO) on a great deal as items do tend to sell out.

But the most striking thing from all the research is just how long ‘Black Friday’ goes on for. Throughout November, IMRG were tracking 210 retailers as part of this research. In the graph below, the blue line shows the number of those who were actively promoting Black Friday specific discounting campaigns throughout Black Friday week, while the orange line shows the number promoting discounting campaigns that were not explicitly related to Black Friday.

As can be seen – and as might be expected – the number running Black Friday specific campaigns peaked on the Friday at 168. However, at the beginning of the week there were already 77 actively promoting Black Friday campaigns (as well as 37 running their own discount campaigns), with that number increasing sharply on both Wednesday and Thursday.

The Wednesday was particularly interesting, marking the day of the week when activity started to really accelerate as many switched on their campaigns – yet this was not reflected in the sales growth for that day, up just +2.8% and by far the lowest rate for any day that week; shoppers appeared to be far less responsive on that day.

Even on Monday 13 November, a full week before Black Friday week began, there were 12 Black Friday-specific and 66 non-specific discounting campaigns live among the 210 retailers tracked.

Vouchercloud concurs, seeing the concept of ‘Cyber Fortnight’ emerging as a trend in 2016 and is firmly here to stay, allowing brands an elongated sales period and therefore better management of stock, delivery and site traffic. It also gives retailers a potential competitive advantage in opting to move first.

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