Sales may have been going all week long, but Black Friday is still the jewel in the holiday shopping crown. And while Thanksgiving may be about gratitude, for mobile shopping, it was also a story of growth.
According to Salesforce, the early push sparked a frenzy on mobile devices and across social media that spread throughout the week. But activity crescendoed on the day after Thanksgiving, with conversions — or share of visitors who placed orders — peaking at 37 percent.
On digital platforms, Friday stood out as what Salesforce considers an “appointment shopping” event. People bought with intention on Black Friday, registering the year’s highest level of conversion rate at 4.8 percent.
Overall, more people were shopping on mobile devices this year, at 67 percent of all digital traffic versus 61 percent during the same day in 2017. Phones also nabbed the most orders on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, at 54 percent and 49 percent order share, respectively.
“Consumers increasingly used their phones this Thanksgiving to browse and buy,” Rob Garf, Salesforce’s vice president of industry strategy and insights and a member of NRF Digital Council, told WWD.
Drilling deeper into the week, the holiday start brought some major news for mobile commerce, especially for the fashion sector. Turns out, smartphones loomed very large for apparel shopping. The tech company noted that as much as 69 percent of online traffic to apparel web sites on the holiday came from phones, edging out the industry average.
For a retail sector that historically has struggled to get its arms around smartphones, the results look like a breakthrough of sorts.
In comparing Thanksgiving 2017 and 2018, the apparel industry set a pattern of growth across digital shopping revenue (17 percent), orders (16 percent) and traffic (13 percent), Salesforce noted. And the impressive 69 percent mobile traffic figure paved the way for other strong numbers: Mobile orders and social traffic shares clocked in at 55 and 8.2 percent, respectively.
According to Garf, these figures come out just ahead of the average. “Apparel retailers and brands have finally cracked the code with the mobile user experience,” he said. “Apparel shoppers can now engage with ease and convenience that finally breaks down the traditional friction between inspiration and purchase.”
The company’s Health & Beauty category also climbed year-over-year, with digital revenue growth coming in at 29 percent and order growth at 36 percent. Traffic ticked up 5 percent higher as well.
Salesforce saw some distinctions between apparel and beauty: The company pointed out that, while the latter’s revenue growth is very aggressive, those shoppers aren’t as mobile as their apparel peers. And they’re less likely to visit via social channels.
But there’s no doubt that both sectors are figuring out the mobile landscape and appealing to smartphone-wielding consumers in ever greater numbers. A year of technology development has seen gains in augmented reality, chatbots, artificial intelligence, computer vision and other initiatives, and that investment is leading to a sea change in retail — which means that business is anything but usual.