Black Friday Roundup: Online Sales Were Up, Online Traffic Was Down

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The article was updated Monday, Nov. 30 at 12:15 p.m. EST with newly-reported information about Black Friday online traffic.]

Slowly but surely, Black Friday is becoming more of an ecommerce holiday.

Black Friday sales were up, but how high were they? According to IBM, online sales for Black Friday were up 21.5% over the same day in 2014.

IBM says consumers continued to shop via their mobile devices—mobile traffic exceeded desktop, accounting for 57.2% of all online traffic, an increase of 15.2% over 2014. Mobile sales were also strong, with 36.2% of all online sales coming from mobile devices, an increase of nearly 30% over last year.

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For the first time, tablets average order value of $136.42 exceeded that of desktops, which ended the day at $134.06. Smartphone shoppers spent $121.06 per order, an increase of 4.3% over 2014.

But smartphones remained the Black Friday shopper’s device of choice. Smartphones accounted for 44.7% of all online traffic, 3 1/2 times that of tablets at 12.5%. Smartphones surpassed tablets in sales, driving 20.6% of online sales (up nearly 75% over 2014) versus tablets at 15.5%.

Meanwhile, the Custora E-Commerce Pulse shows a 16.1% rise in Black Friday ecommerce sales vs. 2014. Custora reports 36.1% of online sales were placed on mobile (phones and tablets), up from 30.3% on Black Friday 2014.

Email marketing was the primary channel driving online sales, accounting for 25.1% of transactions, while social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, etc.) only drove 1.7% of sales, per Custora.

Custora also said that 77.6% of all orders made on mobile devices happened on Apple devices, while only 22.1% happened on Android devices.

And based on ChannelAdvisor’s figures, total ecommerce sales were up 20.8%. Its clients’ Amazon sales grew 20.8% on Black Friday, while Google Shopping grew 40.28% year over year. But ChannelAdvisor’s customers only saw 1.5% growth in year over year sales on eBay.

Meanwhile, ChannelAdvisor said other third-party marketplaces – a grouping of marketplaces that excludes Amazon and eBay such as Best Buy, Sears and Shopping – led the pack by growing 76.6%

Adobe released online sales totals and insights for Black Friday and Thanksgiving last night, at about 7:30 p.m. EST. Adobe said a record $4.45 billion are expected to be spent online for both days; Mobile set a new record with 34% share of sales.

Of course, Adobe’s figures were released while shoppers all across the U.S. were still shopping… so these figures are still subject to a lot of growth.

Retailers did not come out unscathed: Neiman Marcus’s site was down for the greater portion of Black Friday.

As of 3 p.m. EST, Catchpoint Systems reported that the Neiman Marcus website was still having significant outages or slowdowns. The site was back up from 2:51 p.m. to 2:59 p.m. EST, but then quickly went back down, and the “we’ll be back soon” page returned.

Problems had been apparent since around 8:00 a.m. EST. Neiman Marcus finally acknowledged web issues in a tweet at 1:27 p.m. EST, and tweeted this morning that it would extend its Black Friday online sale:


Catchpoint Systems also tracked significant problems with Newegg, which had a brief outage at 1:30 a.m. EST, then went completely down from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. EST. Catchpoint Systems also reported that Footlocker had been having intermittent slowdowns or errors on its mobile site since 9:00 a.m. EST, and that the root cause seemed to be an external third party service incorporated into their mobile site.

Wall Street Journal reported that Walmart had a few web hiccups as well.

Traffic to the major U.S online retail sites saw a year over year decrease by 11% compared to Black Friday last year, according to findings from digital analytics firm SimilarWeb.

The findings show that although retailers saw a positive one-day traffic increase on the day, as shoppers flocked online for deals, they saw less visits on average than last year.

The websites seeing the biggest year-on-year growth of traffic on Black Friday, on both mobile and desktop, were Wayfair (30%), Homedepot (14%) and Kohl’s (10%).

The winners for one-day traffic growth on the day were Zappos (82%), Wayfair (60%), Overstock (57%) Nordstrom (52%) and Home Depot (49%).

Despite the failure by many retailers to achieve year-on-year growth on their desktop and mobile sites, some saw their apps pick up the slack with Walmart seeing a 198% increase in active usage, Target (157%) Amazon (113%) Etsy (53%) and eBay (19%).

On Thanksgiving day, Staples (120%), Best Buy (117%) and J.C Penney (112%) achieved the biggest one-day spikes in online traffic, followed by Walmart (92%)

However on Black Friday itself, Best Buy subsequently saw a 2% decrease in traffic, and Walmart, an 8% reduction.

“Shoppers understand there are deals to be had before and after and seem to be holding out for the best bargains,’ said Pascal Cohen, SimilarWeb’s Digital Insights Manager. “We are seeing this in the way that shoppers visit the sites, keeping an eye on deals and returning throughout the day to grab the best bargains.”

Cohen added that this year however has been the year of the app, with the leading sites seeing growth in engagement across apps, both mobile and desktop.

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