By now you've probably heard the news that Black Friday kind of sucked this year. Some news outlets put it more delicately, like the New York Times noting how "Black Friday [is] Just a Day This Year, No Longer a Bellwether" or CNN Money saying "Black Friday isn't as special as it used to be." Heck, we even got into it here at Social Media Today. But all the delicate downers or outright pessimism misses a big point: Ecommerce, and especially mobile commerce, and growing by leaps and bounds.
It's important not to get too overboard about this. Research firm eMarketer states that online retail will be 9% of total retail sales this holiday season, which is still pretty small overall, making up only about $80 billion of close to $900 billion worth of commerce over the period. But this is only part of the story, as that 9% is a jump from 8.3% last year, which is a big growth from year to year.
More important is the huge increase in mobile commerce. Mcommerce is expected to rise 32.2% in 2015, more than double the 14.2% increase for ecommerce overall for the year. A big part of this jump is due to retailers, brands, and companies trying to make it as easy as possible to shop online wherever you happen to be.
TechCrunch's Dan Leberman has an interesting exploration of the what and why of mobile commerce in his article "The New Wave Of Selling On Mobile And Social." According to Leberman "retailers are quickly adapting to this increased demand for simple mobile shopping with mobile-friendly websites and apps that make shopping on the go as easy as checking your email or sending a text."
A big factor is also "contextual commerce," which is the use of various data garnered through mobile technology such as location, browsing history and patterns, and social media information, to make offers, suggest services, or remind a shopper about that one gift he or she needed to remember to buy which happens to be available at a shop just around the corner from where he or she is currently located.
Marketers and brands have helped things along by simplifying the buying process on mobile as much as possible, including one-click shopping on places such as Amazon. Social media platforms are also getting in on the game, such as Facebook offering the ability to shop right in your news feed. And all of these tools provide data that allows advertisers to target shoppers exactly when they need to with exactly what they need to know.
In addition to all the above factors, what makes ecommerce and mobile commerce such an appealing option for shoppers is the convenience. I was out and about a bit on Black Friday, and even normally busy places like Target seemed relatively calm, with short lines and manageable foot traffic. I imagine future Black Fridays will be the same. There are only so many news stories of Black Friday chaos a person can hear before they decide the best choice is to stay home and shop from there.