Black Friday weekend goes digital

Consumer spending across digital channels showed significant year-over-year growth over this year's  Thanksgiving weekend.

According to data from ComScore, desktop spending surpassed $1 billion on both Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Consumers sitting at desktop PCs spent a total of $1.1 billion, up 9% from $1.01 billion in 2014. On Black Friday, desktop spending grew 10% to $1.66 billion from $1.5 billion.

And insight from Adobe shows that mobile consumers hardly slacked off during the weekend, either. According to Adobe, total online spending reached $2.74 billion on Black Friday and $1.73 billion on Thanksgiving, for a total of $4.47 billion, up 18% from 2014.

Thirty-three percent, or $1.47 billion, of that amount came from mobile devices. Mobile devices accounted for 27% of digital spend on Thanksgiving and Black Friday in 2014. Mobile spending on Black Friday reached $905 million, with $670 million or 74% coming from iPhones and iPads.

Looking at social buzz, Adobe recorded 25% more social media buzz than last year with nearly 4 million mentions. Amazon came out on top with more than 500,000 social media mentions, more than double Target and Walmart combined. Gap, which offered active customer service activity on Twitter, saw the largest increase in social buzz for retailers with 250% year-over-year growth.

Analysis of online Black Friday shopping patterns from the IBM Watson business intelligence platform shows that online sales rose 21% from Black Friday 2014. However, consumers took advantage of deep discounts as average combined desktop and mobile order value for Black Friday was $127.84, down slightly from $129.37 the prior year.

IBM Watson analysis also shows mobile traffic exceeded desktop traffic, accounting for 57% of all online traffic, an increase of 15% from 2014. Mobile sales were also strong, with 36% of all online sales coming from mobile devices, an increase of nearly 30% from the previous year.

For the first time, tablet average order value ($136.42) exceeded that of desktops, which totaled $134.06. Smartphone shoppers spent $121.06 per order, an increase of 4% from 2014. Smartphones accounted for 45% of all online traffic, more than triple the share of tablets (12%). Smartphones also surpassed tablets in sales, driving 21% of online sales (up nearly 75% from 2014), compared to 15.5% driven by tablets.

While desktop spending still outpaces mobile spending, consumers are clearly taking advantage of constant mobile connectivity to browse and research products before making online purchases. In addition, strong growth in mobile purchase volume shows that it is a matter of if, not when, mobile becomes a more important online sales channel than desktop.

And considering the recent spate of social shopping platforms that have been introduced, retailers should closely monitor the growth in Thanksgiving/Black Friday-related social media mentions.

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