December 9, 2013, 4:53 PM

Cyber Monday formula: Mobile + desktop equals more than $2 billion

Mobile captured 18.5% of Black Friday and Cyber Monday digital spending, comScore says.

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While some retailers are reporting record online sales for the Thanksgiving weekend, mobile commerce is emerging as a holiday star in its own right.

Mobile commerce sales accounted for nearly 21% of total Black Friday digital sales in the United States, $314 million out of $1.512 billion, and nearly 17% of Cyber Monday sales, $350 million out of $2.085 billion, Internet research firm comScore Inc. reports. Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving; Cyber Monday is the following Monday. Both are typically among the largest online sales days of the year.

The fact that mobile commerce accounted for close to one in five digital dollars, or 18.5%, spent on those two days is significant, comScore says, “because that percentage is far higher than we’ve ever seen in our quarterly spending data.” By comparison, mobile’s share of online retail spending in the third quarter was 10.8%, and in the fourth quarter of 2012 it was 11.3%. The research firm attributes the increase in mobile’s share partly to the trend of shoppers to buy on mobile devices from retail web sites after viewing products in a bricks-and-mortar store, as well as their shopping via smartphones and tablet computers while sitting at home.

Other reports, meanwhile, continued to come in showing that e-retailers hit unusually strong numbers in web sales and traffic during the start to this year’s holiday shopping season. Musical instruments retailer Musician’s Friend Inc., No. 50 in the Internet Retailer Top 500, set new company records for overall web traffic and number of unique visitors on Black Friday, says Jeff Wisot, vice president of enterprise digital marketing at Musician’s Friend’s parent company, Guitar Center Holdings Inc. “On Cyber Monday, Musician’s Friend broke the records again for best traffic and unique visitors in a single day, as well as receiving the most web orders in company history,” he says. He did not disclose specific figures.

In another measure of online shopping activity, online customer service company LivePerson Inc. says it hosted a record number of digital engagements, such as live chat sessions, on Cyber Monday. “In addition to the record-breaking number of engagements and chat interactions, LivePerson saw a dramatic increase in visitor traffic across its network, which was up 38% from last year,” the company says.

Online retailer and LivePerson client Moosejaw LLC, No, 268 in the Top 500, says live chat plays an important role in keeping customers happy during the peak season. “Our customers demand immediate and personalized assistance online, and live chat is a key means to deliver the experience they expect, especially during the holiday season,” says Chad Caudill, Moosejaw’s director of customer service and warehouse operations.

RichRelevance, a provider of online personalization and product recommendations technology, says its own survey of 26 online retail sites finds that online visitor-to-sales conversion rates between Thanksgiving Day and the following Wednesday were higher in 2013 than in 2012. Conversion rates hit their highest points in both years on Cyber Monday, at 7.4% this year and 6% in 2012. However, the largest year-over-year increases were on the Tuesday and Wednesday after Thanksgiving this year, as conversion rates rose to 5.3% from 3.7% on Tuesday and to 5.4% from 3.6% on Wednesday, RichRelevance says.

Early holiday season online shopping is also off to a strong start in Canada, even though consumers there don’t have the same Thanksgiving weekend. Canada Post, the country’s national postal system, says its volume of shipped domestic parcels rose 20% year over year between the third week of November and today.

The national postal service says it’s already delivered one million parcels on three days this year, hitting that mark much earlier than in 2012. In 2012, Canada Post delivered at least one million parcels on two days—Dec. 10 and Dec. 17—but so far this year, it has already hit the million-package milestone on three days: Nov. 13, Nov. 25 and Dec. 2.

Canada Post adds that parcel volumes shipped by its largest e-commerce clients have increased by 17% across Canada. The province of Quebec experienced the largest jump, at 24%, followed by Newfoundland and Labrador, each at 20%, and Ontario and Nunavut, each at 19%. Prince Edward Island and Manitoba both showed an increase of 11%. 

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