e-Commerce sales soared at the start of this holiday season, with Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday registering record numbers. 
 
At the same time, all across the U.S. retail sector, visitor numbers in traditional stores dipped by around 3% compared to last year. 
 
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This year, consumers spent $4.4 billion on Thanksgiving, a 14.5% increase from 2018. 
 
Black Friday e-commerce sales in the U.S. hit a record high of $7.4 billion, with a significant bump in the number of transactions made from smartphones. This represented a 19.6% increase compared to last year.
 
The combined amount still falls short of last month’s Single’s Day (the world’s biggest shopping day, celebrated on 11/11), where Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba gained more than $38 billion in online sales. 
 
This year in the U.S., Cyber Monday set a new all-time record for e-commerce sales, with a staggering $9.4 billion, which translates to a 19.7% increase compared to last year. 
 
According to Adobe Analytics, the top-selling products were Frozen 2 toys, L.O.L. Surprise Dolls, Apple laptops, Samsung TVs, Madden 20, Fifa 20, and Nintendo Switches. 
 

The Insights Behind the Numbers

 
According to Adobe, desktop sales represented $48.4 billion, a 60.4% share of total e-commerce sales, whereas smartphone sales increased 34.5% ($29 billion), and tablet sales increased 5.1% ($4.1 billion). 
 
This year, the trend continues with shoppers searching for products on their smartphones but actually purchasing more via desktop. Mobile users represented more than 58% of total traffic, but only 36% of the total purchases. 
 
With desktop users, traffic represented 37%, but 59% of purchases were made on desktop. The tablet trend is similar to last year’s with 5% of traffic and a 5% purchase rate. 
 
Regarding conversion, desktop is still king. On Thanksgiving, 4.8% of desktop shoppers converted compared to only 2.3% of mobile shoppers and 3.6% of tablet shoppers. 
 
The overall conversion rate for Black Friday increased to 6.2% for desktop and 2.6% for mobile devices. The tablet conversion rate remains at 4% conversion rate but has a much smaller pool of users. 
 
On Cyber Monday, shoppers who weren’t convinced earlier in the week to make their purchase finally converted. The desktop conversion rate was 7.6% on Cyber Monday, while mobile was 3.2% and tablet 5.5%. 
 

How Can Analysts Help Retail Companies?

 
This holiday season marks the second consecutive year where traditional sales plummeted and e-commerce hit new records. 
 
As we anticipated in our latest white paper, the digitalization trend is here to stay and highlighted by this holiday season. Retailers need to start actively working on changing their operations to fit the new digital age requirements. 
 
Even if the conversion rate for smartphones is still lagging behind desktop, it is building its momentum and rapidly gaining ground. The processing speed increase, mobile app optimizations, and user-friendly websites are making smartphones the preferred method for offer hunting. 
 
However, for the moment, the psychological decision to purchase is still tied to a bigger device. We anticipate that in a few years, the trend will revert, and we will finally see mobile conversion rates top the desktop conversion rates. 
 
As a result, in order to keep up with digital trends and the growing e-commerce industry, analysts (and the analytics itself) can help retailers focus their efforts on the user journey across all devices, including mobile, desktop, and tablet. 
 
Mobile websites and apps with an improved user journey are driving the conversion rate for mobile devices, but many websites still ask their users to go through a tedious process before finally purchasing a product from a mobile phone. 
 
There is a huge underlying opportunity for analytics companies to help retailers optimize the payment process, steer their customers through the website and convince them to finalize the transaction. 
 
Optimizing the user journey doesn’t just benefit and apply to the retail industry. Contact us today to discuss how we can help build a data-driven culture for your business in 2020 and increase revenue.

About the author

Sebastian Stan

Sebastian is a journalist and digital strategist with years of experience in the news industry, social media, content creation and management, and digital analytics.

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