Smartphones Were Used To Make Over A Third Of Online Black Friday Purchases [Opinion]

Woman shops via app on Black Friday
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A report recently emerged revealing that Sears had a low turnout in its retail stores on Black Friday. However, it is among all things possible that the news may not have been as bad as some might suspect. Low turnouts don’t mean the same as they once did, since more people have taken to shopping from the comfort of their smartphones, rather than braving the weather.

Engadget reported that “[o]ver a third of online Black Friday purchases came from phones.”

“If you spent Black Friday hunting for deals on your smartphone, you’re not the only one. Adobe analysts have determined that just over a third (33.5 percent) of online Black Friday sales were completed on smartphones — a large uptick from 29.1 percent just one year earlier. People were willing to splurge, too. There was over $2.1 billion in sales, a leap from the previous record ($1.4 billion) set on Cyber Monday, not Black Friday.”

News like this actually gives companies like Sears a second life if they are able to pivot in time. Retailers no longer have to rely on “door-buster” sales and “door-buster” crowds to attract shoppers. The online shopping experience is more relaxed and convenient.

Yet many traditional retail stores have done little to attract the profitable sector of online buyers that make companies like Amazon worth a trillion dollars. They can attract more of these online shoppers by simply updating their websites to be more mobile-friendly and more conducive to navigate on small devices. According to Adobe’s Taylor Schreiner in the above Engadget article, streamlining of apps for a “better mobile experience” is already having a positive effect on Black Friday sales.

full shopping cart
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What the information from Adobe did not tell us is how much of that shopping was done on each of the two major smartphone platforms. In the past when such information has been made available, iOS was well ahead of Android. Last year, iPhone users spent about three times what Android users spend per transaction. Social media and search engines allow sellers to take advantage of this by targeting specific platforms with specific messages.

Some online sellers have been caught using this information to inflate prices when viewed by people using iOS. Airlines and airline price aggregators were guilty of this. And there is no reason to believe they have stopped. You could go to the same site on an iPhone and Android phone and pull up the same item or ticket. In many instances, the price appearing on the iPhone would be higher because retailers know that iPhone users are less price sensitive.