Black Friday Analytics
So it’s that time of year again when commercialism runs rampant, people spend with reckless abandon, and at any moment there could be fisticuffs at your local Wal-Mart. But alas, this is Holiday Season in America, so be joyous about it!
I’ve been watching online spending trends for the past decade and most recently tying to discern what impact mobile and social media plays in all that glitters online. All signs indicate that 2013 is door-busting records with all time highs for online sales, yet depending on which data you believe in, there’s different stories to be told.
Two analytics leaders, IBM and Adobe routinely benchmark holiday shopping. And while their methodologies differ, so too does their data. Here’s a snapshot of some of their published findings thus far:
Show me the Money
IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark reports a +18.9% increase from 2012 in Black Friday sales during this year’s holiday season. Average Order Value (AOV) was $135 with on average 3.8 items per order.
Adobe’s Digital Index reported slightly higher profits with a 39% increase from 2012 for a whopping $1.93 Billion in online sales. Adobe reported a similar AOV at $139 and also revealed that the peak shopping time on Black Friday was between 11AM and noon ET, when retailers accrued $150 Million during this single profitable hour.
While both companies reported lift on 2013 online sales during these two days of shopping, each indicates substantial lift in Thanksgiving Day sales, which may have cannibalized some of Friday’s profits. And while Cyber Monday numbers are still being tallied, all signs point to the biggest online shopping day yet, which likely has retailers grinning from ear to ear early on in this short 2013 holiday shopping season.
Both indices show mobile as a significant driver in online sales. Adobe reported that on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, nearly one out of every four sales was made via mobile device. IOS devices and in particular, iPads were the device of choice in both company’s findings. Adobe reported that a total of $417 Million was recognized in just two days (Thanksgiving and Black Friday) via iPad sales by businesses within their index.
This should come as no surprise to those of us following the data, but mobile now represents nearly 40% of all Black Friday traffic. That’s a trend that retailers just cannot ignore. And as a consumer, you probably can’t ignore it either. Tactics reported by IBM indicate that retailers sent 37% more push notifications via alerts and popup messages on installed apps during these two heavy online shopping days.
Where in the World?
The biggest discrepancy between the two online shopping benchmarks comes from the geographic perspective. Keep in mind here, that IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark is comprised of data from 800 US Retail websites; and the Adobe Digital Index data represents a wholly different set of US retailers that accrued 3 billion online visits during the Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday shopping spree. (Note that exact comparable data isn’t provided in publicly available information.)
Yet, Adobe’s data reflects the majority of online shopping on Black Friday coming from 1) Vermont, 2) Wyoming, 3) South Dakota, 4) North Dakota, and 5) Alaska. They cite weather and rural locations as rationale for these states topping the list. IBM on the other hand, indicates that on Black Friday 2013, the highest spending states from their benchmark include: 1) New York, California, Texas, Florida, and Georgia. It’s not atypical to see variances in data sets, yet keep in mind when interpreting results for yourself, it’s all about the data collection method. Results will vary based on who is in your benchmark and how you’re slicing the data.
While IBM’s early data cited in an article by All Things Digital made the outlook for social appear dreary,
Adobe weighed in with a contradictory and uplifting perspective on social. IBM did not report on social sales for Black Friday in 2013 apparently because the findings weren’t “interesting”, but their report from 2012 showed that directly attributable revenue from social media (last click) was a dismal .34% of Black Friday sales. By my math that equates to a paltry $3.5 Million total online dollars via social media sales for Black Friday. The AllThingsD reporter managed to eek out of Jay Henderson, IBM’s Strategy Director, that social sales were flat again this year. Moreover, the article quotes Henderson as saying “I don’t think the implication is that social isn’t important, but so far it hasn’t proven effective to driving traffic to the site or directly causing people to convert.” Hmm…
However, this year Adobe is telling a slightly different story. According to their Cyber Monday blog post, social media has referred a whopping $150 million in sales in just five days from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. While, it’s not clear if they’re tracking using a last- or first-click perspective, this data indicates that social is pulling its share of the holiday sled this 2013 season. Well, at least social is pulling about 2% of the sled based on a total of $7.4 billion in total online sales from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday.
Whichever metrics you choose to believe, counting dollars in social media ROI is never an easy task and it usually doesn’t lead to riches. I’m about to publish a white paper on this very topic, so if you’d like to learn more about quantifying the impact of social, email me for more info.
The Bottom Line
This holiday season is shaping up to be the biggest yet for retailers of all sizes. Remember when just a few years ago people were afraid to buy ***anything*** online? Well, it certainly appears that those days are gone. So, as the days before Christmas (or whichever holiday you celebrate) wind down, and the free shipping deals get sweeter, and the door-busters swing closed until next year, take a close look at your data to see what the digital data trends leave for you.