December 5, 2013, 10:18 AM

Tis the season for growing mobile commerce, retailers report

A wide swath of retailers report strong mobile sales for the holiday season thus far.

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Though there’s still weeks to go before the online holiday shopping season comes to a close, early numbers from several retailers indicate a surge in mobile commerce for the first few banner sales days from Thanksgiving weekend through Cyber Monday. Forget double-digit growth: many retailers are posting triple-digit increases in several mobile metrics over the same holiday shopping days last year.

Make-up retailer Sephora’s Thanksgiving weekend mobile sales suggest shoppers were looking to give the gift of a little glam courtesy of their mobile devices, or, perhaps that they are prepping themselves to look their best for upcoming holiday soirees. The retailer, No. 92 in the 2014 Internet Retailer Mobile 500, says on Black Friday, or the day after Thanksgiving, sales via smartphones increased 300% over the same day last year. Looking at tablet sales, Sephora experienced a 221% increase in sales via those devices on Black Friday and a nearly 300% increase in tablet sales on Thanksgiving Day over the holiday last year, says Julie Bornstein, Sephora chief marketing officer and chief digital officer. Smartphone and tablet sales accounted for nearly one-third of Sephora.com sales over Thanksgiving weekend, Bornstein says. And on Cyber Monday, sales via smartphones grew 135% over the same day last year.

Over at apparel retailer Dungarees.net, No. 378 in the Internet Retailer Mobile 500, mobile sales were up 97% and orders more than doubled over the Thanksgiving weekend compared to the same weekend in 2012, says Darren Baldwin, e-commerce manager.

“We made many enhancements to the mobile site over the year to help improve conversion rate, plus Google’s new Enhanced Campaigns allow us to have much better keyword coverage on mobile devices to drive a lot more traffic from mobile search,” he says. “We expect this trend to continue as technology improves and our customers get more and more comfortable shopping from their phones.” Google says its Enhanced Campaigns, introduced this year, makes it easier for advertisers to extend campaigns from computers to mobile devices.

Baldwin says in the past year Dungarees.net added customer reviews from Bazaarvoice to its m-commerce site and improved the consistency between the e-commerce and m-commerce sites by, for example, displaying the same promotions and graphics on both, as well as using similar navigation. It also added the ability for shoppers to enter and use promotional codes on its mobile site.

Women’s apparel retailer The Limited tells a similarly strong mobile holiday sales story. The retailer, No. 400 in the Mobile 500, says sales via smartphones and tablets grew 127% over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend compared to 2012. The conversion rate for smartphones also grew 61% over last year compared to the same time period, while tablet conversions grew 140%. Smartphone traffic grew 27% and tablet traffic grew 19%, the retailer says. Mobile as a percentage of total sales also increased 49%.

At Fathead.com, a web-only retailer of life-size wall decals of athletes and graphics, mobile sales over the holiday weekend shot up 157% compared to the same period last year, says Michael Layne, director of Internet marketing. And while the tablet conversion rate was about the same as last year, tablet traffic increased 97%. The smartphone conversion rate rose 20% with traffic up 148%, Layne says. Fathead is No. 320 in the Mobile 500.

And adding in Cyber Monday made those figures even better. “Taking the five days from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, every aspect of our mobile business was up year over year, not by a little bit, but by a lot,” Layne says. “We had a 35% higher conversion rate, and more than two and a half times the revenue.”

Toy retailer FatBrainToys.com experienced a surge in mobile commerce as well, with smartphone sales up 80% over the long weekend year over year, and tablet sales up 50%. When it comes to mobile traffic, smartphone traffic increased 100% and tablet traffic spiked 200%, says Mark Carson, president and co-founder of the retailer.

Meanwhile, statistics from a men’s clothing retailer client of 5th Finger, a mobile marketing company, provide an interesting glimpse in the breakdown between traffic and sales via mobile devices running Apple Inc.’s iOS and mobile devices running Google Inc.’s Android. The retailer, which asked not to be named, reports iOS devices accounted for 74% of total mobile revenue on Black Friday while Android devices accounted for 26%. Regarding mobile traffic, iOS accounted for 67%, Android 32% and other mobile platforms 1%, 5th Finger says.

The retailer’s mobile site and app traffic increased 160% on Black Friday compared to the same day in 2012. Smartphones accounted for 94.5% of mobile traffic and tablets 5.5%, 5th Finger says.

 

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