Black Friday trading recap: Beyond the mobile inflection point

Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed, we want to see which learnings retailers can use to inform their strategy for the coming year. At Qubit we analyzed aggregated data from retailers in the UK and US1 to identify patterns and trends that unfolded across the weekend. Read on for an explanation of the three trends you cannot afford to ignore in your 2018 planning. For a quick summary, take a look at the results in the tables below.

In this blog post, ‘Black Friday weekend’ will refer to the timeframe starting from Thursday, 23 November 2017, up until and including Cyber Monday, 27 November 2017.

UK retail results for Black Friday weekend

US retail results for Black Friday weekend

Trend 1. We’ve surpassed the mobile inflection point

Mobile was consistently the major source for traffic to retailers’ sites. On average throughout the Black Friday weekend in the UK, 1.7x more visitors came to retail sites via mobile than they did via desktop. In the US, 1.4x more visitors came via mobile than desktop.

Feeding into the debate around whether sales growth to tablet devices is over, we found that tablet is proving unpopular for online shoppers. In the UK, 11.5% of visitors came via tablet, and 14.5% of revenue was generated through the channel. In the UK, tablets performed even worse, with just 7.0% of visitors generating just 8.8% of revenue.

Trend 2. Retailers are depending too heavily on desktop for their revenue

Our analysis showed us that retailers are still depending on the desktop channel for most of their revenue. Shoppers clearly have issues with the mobile web, as both revenue per visitor (RPV) and overall revenue were much lower on mobile than on desktop.

On average across the Black Friday weekend, RPV on mobile was proportionally 56.1% lower than on desktop in the UK. Consequently, mobile generated just 36.3% of all revenue generated. We saw very similar numbers in the US, where RPV was proportionally 56.6% lower than on desktop, and mobile generated just 33.8% of all revenue.

Most consumers now shop via mobile. In 2018, retailers need to stop relying on desktop for most of their revenue. An important thing to keep in mind here is that you aren’t competing just with other retailers, but also with more mobile-friendly experiences provided by the likes of Instagram and Pinterest. Retailers that put the customer first will be working on their mobile experience to get it right.

Trend 3. Mobile is your new storefront

Tying in with our first two findings, we also found that in both the UK and the US, mobile drew in the largest amount of new visitors. In the UK, 52.4% of all new visitors came to retailers’ sites via mobile. In the US, just under half (47.8%) of all new visitors came to sites via mobile. This is a clear sign that mobile is a great channel for customer acquisition, and also a crucial one for forming first impressions.

Considering the fact that 81% of US and UK consumers would switch their loyalty to sites that provide them with a better experience (see our research about this here), and the fact that mobile is an industry-wide challenge that retailers haven’t gotten right yet, this presents a unique opportunity: retailers who achieve a great mobile experience will be able to win over new shoppers very quickly in 2018.

The bottom line

As Graham Cooke, our CEO, notes: “Retailers are a facing a megatrend that’s coming through loud and clear in the data from Black Friday. The holiday season is the biggest online event of the year, and it’s now mobile-first.

“Traditional mobile sites just aren’t designed for the way people want to discover and buy online. The channel is a ‘leaky bucket’ with consistently less revenue per visitor than on desktop. This is a hard problem to solve, but we believe those retailers who put a focus on their mobile experience and employ technology like artificial intelligence, will game-change their mobile revenue for Black Friday 2018.”

The industry comments

Some of our clients comment on the mobile trends they are seeing:

“Mobile is where we continue to see traffic growth, but in terms of revenue versus desktop it’s not equal. Fifty percent of our traffic is nowhere near half of our revenue. The challenge for ecommerce brands is to bridge the discovery that happens on Instagram, and similar tools, and make this discovery phase become native and within our walls." - Felipe Araujo, Head of Ecommerce at Diane von Furstenberg.

“With a vast product catalog, and a small-screen size, it’s integral that we can surface products that our customers want.” - Jo Homer, Head of User Experience at Mothercare

“The biggest thing about mobile shopping right now is if you don’t know what you’re looking for, discovering it is really difficult. If you’re new to the brand, what does the experience need to be in order for you figure out what you want from the site? Do you need the usual mobile web experience, or just a focused discovery page that shows you what other people are looking at, what’s popular, what’s about to sell out, and what you should know about this brand?” - Nate Dierks, Director of Technology at ColourPop.

Want more insights around 2017 peak trading and mobile? 

Tune in to our webinar with IMRG Strategy and Insight Director Andy Mulcahy on December 12, where we will review how retailer activity unfolded over the crucial pre-Christmas peak trading weeks.

 

Qubit and IMRG webinr: 2017 peak review & how to win on mobile.

 

1Results aggregated from 62 retailers in the UK and 34 retailers in the US.