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Retailers Give Thanks for Mobile Shoppers

28 Nov, 2012 By: Doug McPherson

NEW YORK – Retailers had something to be thankful for last Thursday: mobile shoppers. Turns out, the consumers who weren’t busting down brick-and-mortar doors were setting mobile shopping records.

Americans made 65.3 percent more purchases with their phones last Thursday than they had on Thanksgiving 2011, according to IBM Smarter Commerce. And overall Internet retail business sales are up 17.4 percent over last year’s holiday weekend results.

While mobile was big, tablets also figured in the post-feast fallout: IBM reports iPad tappers made up 10.7 percent of all online shopping on Thursday.

Overall, as of Thursday at noon Eastern time, 26.5 percent of visitors to retail sites were coming from mobile devices, up substantially from the 15.1 percent recorded in 2011. The share of purchases was at 14.1 percent, up four points from last year. IBM saw the iPhone leading, with 9.6 percent of all traffic, followed by the iPad with 9.3 percent and Android devices with 7.3 percent.

Mobile shopping continued into Black Friday, too, with mobile purchasing up 14.3 percent. IBM Smarter Commerce Strategy Director Jay Henderson told the Boston Globe, “Mobile is really having a breakout year.”

For example, the design-oriented E-commerce site Fab reported that 40 percent of its Thanksgiving Day sales came through mobile devices, according to Business Insider.

As for online searchers, clothing took the top spot for the most-searched items across smartphones, tablets and desktops. Electronics took second on smartphones, compared with indoor living items on tablets and desktops. Indoor living took No. 3 on smartphones, compared with electronics on tablets and laptops.

While activity was up, the conversion rate on mobile traffic declined slightly from last year, to 2.72 percent from 2.78 percent. For all online E-commerce traffic, the conversion rate was 4.58 percent. Nevertheless, IBM finds that mobile devices play a considerable role in shopping, with 58 percent of consumers using their smartphones to look for bargains at some point on Black Friday, as did 41 percent of those using tablets.

IBM's Smarter Commerce division measured about 500 of the largest online retailers in the U.S. for its report.

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