IBM’s Data on Holiday Shopping Highlights Mobile’s Growing Importance

Navigator Edition: January 2014
By: Tim Skeen and Doug Berkowitz

Data published by IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark division reveals strong online sales growth this past holiday season driven by an increase in mobile commerce sales. The 5-day Black Friday holiday shopping period that extends from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday had a record setting year online, growing 16.5% over 2012. Similarly, both Black Friday and Cyber Monday broke previous records for online sales growing 13% and 7% year-over-year, respectively.  Of the four retail sectors that IBM tracks on these major shopping days, all experienced material increases in online and mobile sales. “Department stores” saw the largest lift in online spend while “health and beauty” saw the most significant gains in mobile spend. The report specifically points to mobile commerce and social media referrals as key contributors to e-commerce sales growth.

Mobile Commerce*

Mobile purchases accounted for nearly 22% and 17% of total online sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, respectively. On both shopping days mobile sales increased by over 40% compared to 2012. This growth was likely aided by heavy mobile promotions over the 5-day Black Friday holiday shopping period, as retailers sent 77% more push notifications to their mobile app users than they did in the previous two months, and retail app installations grew by 29%.  In addition, IBM identified a trend that consumers are more likely to utilize smartphones to browse a showroom, but prefer to use tablets to make final purchases (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Mobile Driven Online Activity


Source: IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark Cyber Monday Report 2013, IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark Black Friday Report 2013

Social Media

IBM data on Facebook and Pinterest referral activity demonstrates differences in consumer purchasing behaviors in leading social media outlets. As seen in Figure 2, the average spend per transaction was higher when sourced from Pinterest referrals, while Facebook converted referrals at a significantly higher rate. Black Friday saw Facebook convert four times as many referrals into sales than Pinterest and Cyber Monday saw 38% more.

Figure 2: Average Ticket for Social Media Referrals


Source: IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark Cyber Monday Report 2013, IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark Black Friday Report 2013

These holiday shopping indicators suggest that consumers are becoming more reliant on online shopping, likely fueled by the parity between prices found in store and online, convenience, and the promotional intensity in the channel. The record-setting numbers are indicative of the economic recovery in addition to an increase in consumer comfort with mobile and online commerce.

*Mobile commerce is considered shopping through both smartphones and tablets.

For more information, please contact Tim Skeen, Associate,; or Doug Berkowtiz, Senior Analyst, Both specialize in Credit Card Issuing.

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