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A Merry Black Friday for Online Retailers

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The day after US Thanksgiving marks the official start of the Christmas shopping season.  It is looked at, by some, with enthusiasm exceeding that which is reserved for turkey and all the trimmings.  Stores open at midnight, shoppers wait either in line or online for sales and deals, and people from all walks of life join the melee.  Despite a still-struggling economy, online retailers saw a boost in sales this Black Friday thanks to both social and mobile shopping.  According to tech firm, IBM, online sales increased by double digits over last year.

John Squire, chief strategy officer of IBM’s Coremetrics, which delivered the Black Friday retail report, said, “[W]e’re watching online retail, and increasingly social media and mobile, become the growth engines for retailers everywhere as consumers embrace online shopping not only for its ease and convenience, but as a primary means of researching goods and services.”  Shoppers were out in full force, but there was a difference in their methods.  IBM calls it “surgical shopping.”  Consumers knew what they wanted, found it, and moved on.  These blitz attacks meant that consumers viewed 18 percent fewer products than last year.  The implication for sites is that consumers want to get in and get out.  Streamlining sites and making sure popular items are easily found and purchased is key.

The AOV, or average order value, was $190.80, up over $20 from Black Friday 2009. Consumers were spending more, but they were also being more savvy about it.  About one percent of shoppers arrived at their retailers via a social network site (led by Facebook), and this is growing.  Not only is it a portal for some shoppers, it is a rich source of product information, inventory levels, and deals.  Shoppers also used their mobile device to access sites.  The number of people who logged onto retailers’ sites with their phone, Touch, or other device grew 26.7 percent, accounting for nearly 6 percent of shoppers.

Sales figures were looking good across the board, with especially big increases for electronics and health and beauty items.  High-end items, particularly jewelry, were also enjoying healthy sales, and department stores are reaping the benefits as shoppers spend almost 18 percent more time on their sites.

Meanwhile, shoppers in the UK are gearing up for what is expected to be the biggest day of shopping, Mega Monday.  Many experts and retailers predict that December 6 will be the UK’s answer to Black Friday.  Already, 55 percent of retailers have shown growth, and November sales figures increased.

 

Managing director of the UK’s online retail association IMRG, David Smith, says, “We estimate that over half a billion pounds will be spent online on Sunday 5 and Monday 6 December.  Total online spending for the Christmas period covering November and December is anticipated to be £12.4bn.”

 

Though the economy remains sluggish, retailers are hoping to get into the Christmas spirit in order to start the New Year off on a more even footing.

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