Mobile: The Present & Future of Black Friday, Cyber Monday

cyber monday shopping

photo credit: Mike McCune

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday . . . where does that leave us today? It’s Data Wednesday.

The crazy thing is: Black Friday wasn’t even the beginning. The holiday shopping season really started a day early this year. Although sites usually wait until midnight on Friday morning, enough retailers started on Thanksgiving Day this year to boost sales by 21% over Thanksgiving last year—that’s a total of $766 million. And that was a pretty light shopping day compared to the next few.

Black Friday this year brought in $1.19 billion in online desktop sales according to a report earlier this week by comScore, a 15% increase over last year. Not surprisingly, Amazon was the most-visited online retailer, followed closely by eBay, Walmart, Best Buy, and Target; in other words, the companies that can afford the kind of deep discounts that motivate customers to buy.

Online sales did make a dent to physical stores, which just suffered the first spending decline on a Black Friday weekend since 2009 according to Bloomberg. Luckily for the little guys, there was Small Business Saturday the next day, which brought in an estimated $5.7 billion to independent merchants in-store and online.

Cyber Monday was the obvious online retail winner, though. With sales rising 21% from 2012—32 % of which came from mobile devices, a 45% gain—the shift toward e-commerce is more evident than ever. “This is the first holiday season where mobile is absolutely having its mark on overall retail sales, whether that’s from a smartphone or a tablet.” said Ron Josey, an analyst at JMP Securities Inc. in New York, said in an interview with Bloomberg,  “It’s not going away.”

In fact, since Thanksgiving, mobile buying reports have shown that while smartphones are (and have been) common for price-checking and browsing, customers prefer to buy—and are willing to spend a little more—while using tablets. Consumers spent an average of $128.30 per order on tablets this year, compared with $110.95 for smartphones.

All that data to say: if you have an e-commerce site and don’t think mobile will make or break you. . .it’s time to look at the numbers. E-commerce isn’t the future of retail anymore and mobile isn’t the future of e-commerce–as of this holiday shopping season, it’s the present.