In a year that saw somewhat muted in-store sales, it was online purchases - particularly online purchases made from mobile devices - that helped salvage the Black Friday through Cyber Monday shopping weekend for retailers. It's perhaps not surprising to hear that such a shift is occurring in American's shopping habits, though. After all, online purchases over the holiday weekend have increased every year since "Cyber Monday" was born into being back in 2006.
But why the shift away from traditional Black Friday holiday shopping? The reasons are many, of course, but in general, people are becoming savvy to the fact that online shopping often yields comparable (or better) deals to those found in-store. Shopping online also allows for avoiding door busters and long lines at the big box stores on Thanksgiving evening, and in many ways, is simply more convenient. Unless you're window shopping, there is really no reason not to buy online in 2014 - suffice to say, online commerce has proven itself by now.
What was interesting about 2014 was not that online sales increased year-over-year, but rather that mobile sales - that is, sales from tablets and smartphones - saw such a dramatic rise (of course, desktop traffic increased as well). The so-called Internet of Things is starting to take root; our constant connectivity has transcended novelty to become a deeply ingrained aspect of our culture.
A Look at the Numbers - Mobile Devices Drive Huge Sales
Though desktop traffic was up 20 percent compared to last year, traffic from mobile and tablet devices accounted for 41 percent of all site traffic this year - a huge number. Part of this likely stems from the fact that people increasingly open their emails on mobile devices, not their desktop computers, and these emails drove traffic and conversions.
According to data compiled by Comscore and other sources, 46 percent of all Cyber Monday emails were opened on a mobile device, and conversions (or actual transactions) from these emails increased by 48 percent compared to last year. This growth in sales from mobile emails, combined with the increased traffic from mobile devices, helped smartphone transactions account for nine percent of all online sales (average order value: $99) and tablet transactions 13 percent (average order value: $121).
Looking One Level Deeper - What Do Sales Say about Mobile Use?
If these high average order values prove anything, it's that people are not only increasingly using their mobile devices for online purchases, but for making significant online purchases. Think of it this way: the average order value isn't $99 because everyone bought a $100 item, but rather because for all of the $20 Blu-Ray discs that were bought, people were also buying smartphones, tablets, Xboxes and Playstations. This, perhaps more than the actual sales numbers, is a better illustration of how pervasive the Internet of Things has become; people are willing to buy items that cost hundreds of dollars while riding the subway.
And make no mistake, people did buy smartphones, tablets, Xboxes and Playstations - in droves. Top-selling items this year include tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the new iPad Air 2, as well as game consoles such as the Nintendo 3DS (and the aforementioned Microsoft and Sony offerings). Many retailers even offered major deals for purchasing a new iPad Air 2 or Mini: Target offered up to a $200 gift card if you purchased one, carriers like T-Mobile offered free WiFi calling and a limited amount of 4G LTE data for tablet users, and WalMart's incentives were effective enough to make the iPad Mini one of its top sellers.
Cyber Monday 2014 demonstrated plain as day that Mobile is here to stay. Users are starting to make their mobile devices a regular facet of their lives; no longer are smartphones and tablets relegated to being devices used only for Facebook check-ins and Instagram selfies.
Mobile Sales Set to Take Larger Chunk of the Pie
If this year's numbers are anything to go by, then we can expect smartphones and tablets to play an increasingly larger role in online sales moving forward. As people navigate away from their desktop computers and become more comfortable with making online transactions from a phone or tablet, we'll see consumer habits continue to shift to these new devices. It only makes sense though, right? After all, you're very likely reading this article on a mobile device; why not make purchases from a mobile device as well?