December 2, 2009, 12:00 AM

Mobile commerce was hopping Thanksgiving weekend

Traffic to mobile commerce and shopping information sites increased twelve-fold on Friday and more than doubled on Monday. EBay and PayPal report lots of mobile activity. And Sears shoppers were buying via mobile at 4 a.m.

PayPal mobile payments skyrocketed 732% year over year on Monday, and they jumped 190% over a typical Monday, PayPal reports. At parent company eBay Inc., consumers used its newly unveiled Deals mobile app more than 50,000 times on Friday alone. And consumers were beating others to Sears doorbusters by purchasing them at 4 a.m. through their mobile phones.

Those were some of the mobile commerce highlights for Thanksgiving through Monday, a period that put the icing on the cake for what has been a breakthrough year for mobile technology in retail.

The big news came in traffic to mobile commerce and shopping information sites. Visits to these sites on Friday increased twelve-fold and more than doubled Monday compared with the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving weekend, reports Novarra Inc., a mobile technology company that provides a multimedia mobile platform and mobile web browser. The results are based on the mobile web traffic through retailers including Abercrombie & Fitch Co., Inc., Best Buy Co., eBay, Macy’s Inc., Nordstrom Inc., Sears Holdings Corp., Target Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Friday beat Monday in average mobile page views, the Novarra study shows. Page views for mobile commerce sites were up 388% on Friday versus 160% on Monday compared with the weeks before the weekend. Retailers with the greatest increases in traffic to their mobile sites were Best Buy (792%), Wal-Mart Stores (740%), Sears (492%) and Macy’s (447%).

“This is further confirmation that consumers increasingly rely on the Internet via mobile phones for their daily habits and routines,” says Scott Cotter, senior director of marketing at Novarra. “For many shoppers, browsing special deals and comparing products, pricing and other information while they are on the run-even at a retailer’s location-has become second nature.”

Total sales via its mobile site and app were up at Sears2go, where consumers were buying products across the map: electronics, tools, lawn and garden, sporting goods, and Friday doorbuster sales items, reports the retailer, which also operates Kmart2go, where sales were up as well.

“We had a lot of mobile traffic through Sears2go right around 4 a.m., and there were more spikes in the morning,” a Sears spokesman says. “People were waking up early in the morning and didn’t want to go to the store or do the formality of booting up their computer-they wanted those doorbusters and they used their mobile phones to get them.”

Many mobile shoppers took advantage of Sears’ order online/pickup in-store program, which can be used when shopping by computer or mobile phone. “Very few mobile retailers offer this service, and it provides shoppers with immediacy and gratification,” the spokesman says.

He adds that there was much anecdotal evidence through the MySears and MyKmart online communities that shoppers also were using the Sears and Kmart mobile channels to comparison shop in competitors’ stores-and then make a purchase from Sears or Kmart while in the competitors’ stores.

“Overall this is our first holiday season of having our fully integrated ‘Shop Your Way’ program,” the spokesman says. “Mobile is playing a big role, and it is a key differentiator from our competitors. Many more people this past weekend than ever before were taking advantage of Sears2go and Kmart2go. And mobile will remain a key point of emphasis throughout the holiday season.”

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