To say the least, it has not been a typical holiday shopping season and that’s a good thing for online retailers.

One possible explanation for the unprecedented ecommerce growth this holiday season is that the duration has been expanding for years. 

It started off as just the weeks leading up to Christmas, but slowly it crept back into November.

This year Amazon even started 'Black Friday' deals on November 1, when Halloween decorations had barely been taken down yet.

With this elongated holiday season, retailers have had more opportunities to target different customer segments and this has paid off.

In the US, ecommerce orders between November 1 and December 14 have risen by 15% when compared to that same timeframe last year. 

How does that break down into the various shopping holidays now commonplace during the holiday season? 

Thanksgiving shopping

Overall, Thanksgiving revenue grew 17.7% over 2013. Some shoppers pulled out their mobile devices to get some shopping done on Thanksgiving, but not as many as last year.

This year 46% of Thanksgiving shoppers chose to buy on their mobile devices, compared to 49% in 2013.

Black Friday

ChannelAdvisor reports that online sales jumped 22% on Black Friday, compared to the previous year. 

When that is broken down into two of the largest marketplaces: Amazon and eBay, that growth stands at 24 and 27%, respectively. Custora deemed it the biggest shopping day in history, but it was quickly surpassed by Cyber Monday. 

Thanksgiving weekend

Custora reports that during Thanksgiving weekend US ecommerce orders grew by over 15.4%, when compared to 2013. 

For just the Saturday and Sunday following Thanksgiving, comScore’s data showed a 26% increase from last year. 

Cyber Monday and beyond

Cyber Monday 2014 ecommerce revenue grew by 15.4 - 17% over 2013. This year represented a milestone because for the first time ever, online sales reached over $2 billion in just one day.

It is now known as the biggest online shopping day in history with the most online sales revenue we’ve ever seen.

Retailers kept up the strong growth beyond Cyber Monday. From December 2 to 14th, US ecommerce orders grew by 16.5%, compared to 2013. Revenue also grew by 15.6%.

The role of mobile

On all of the big shopping days this holiday season, one thing was constant; the prevalence of mobile devices. Between December 2 and 14, 24.3% of ecommerce orders came from smartphones or tablets. Mobile orders accounted for 18.2% of orders from December 2 to 14 in 2013. 

This further exemplifies the fact that if online retailers don’t already have easy-to-navigate mobile sites, now is the time to invest, because mobile adoption is only increasing. On top of that, 30% of mobile shoppers will abandon a transaction if the site they’re on isn’t mobile friendly.

Some are even calling Black Friday “Mobile Friday” because mobile shoppers made up 30.3% of online orders, a substantial jump from 22.5% in 2013.

Apple devices have long reigned supreme in ecommerce, but this year Android shook it up a bit and accounted for more purchasing power than usual during the holidays. Apple devices made up 77.6% of mobile ecommerce orders, but Android accounted for 22%, a 5.6% increase from last year. 

Regardless, iOS shoppers spent more, drove more traffic, and of course, made up more sales on Black Friday. iOS shoppers spent $121.86 per order versus $98.07 for Android shoppers.

Traffic from Apple devices drove 34.2% of all online traffic, compared to 15% of online traffic from Android. In terms of sales, iOS devices really showed who’s boss with 21.9% of all online sales, compared to a paltry 5.8% for Android.

Even though Android has grown substantially, it still can’t be compared to Apple just yet.

The competitive landscape

This holiday season has been fierce. With so many shoppers armed with their smartphones, tablets, and computers, it has been tough for retailers to secure sales. That’s where pricing and added value come in.

RTP Dynamic Pricing.jpg

While all retailers can’t (and might not even want to) match Amazon’s low prices, having prices that take into account competitors’ pricing definitely increases the chances of winning the sale.

Even if having the lowest price doesn’t align with a retailer’s overall strategy, justify a premium over your competitors with free shipping. It has been hot this holiday season as an added bonus that helps shoppers complete their transactions.

With such high traffic and sales this year, many retailers will be wondering how they can get the most out of the 2015 holiday season. One thing that many of the most successful retailers in the US have in common is a dynamic pricing strategy. 

Dynamic pricing can improve sales and profits for online retailers. Even if you’re not selling 426 items per second like Amazon did during the 2013 holidays, it’s important to know that the behemoth changes prices every 10-15 minutes for a reason. All retailers want to ensure that they are optimized for success so that the holiday season is truly the most profitable time of the year.

What other factors do you see driving ecommerce growth in 2015?

Contributing Writer: Angelica Valentine, Content Marketing Manager at Wiser

Ari Shpanya

Published 5 January, 2015 by Ari Shpanya

Ari is the co-founder of HomeShare and Zent , Graduate of the GSB Stanford Ignite program, and a contributor to Econsultancy.

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Tarun Varma, Paid Search Manager at BuildDirect Inc

nice article Arie, just wanted to confirm the Amazon sales # of 426/second is for 2013 or 2014 holiday season? thanks

about 3 years ago

Ari Shpanya

Ari Shpanya, co-founder at HomeShare.com

Hi Tarun,

Thank you for reading. That figure is for the 2013 holiday season.

about 3 years ago

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Tarun Varma, Paid Search Manager at BuildDirect Inc

thanks Arie, appreciate it

about 3 years ago

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Oli Green, CEO at Tangent Small Business

Interesting piece, the rise of mobile and dynamic pricing is relentless

about 3 years ago

David Mann

David Mann, Conversion Rate Optimisation Consultant at Davidmannheim.co.uk

Great article - thanks. It did seem to blow up this year for Black Friday 2014 (I especially enjoyed watching the videos of lunatics in ASDA at 6am mauling each other for TVs).

Do we have any research to suggest why that was? i.e why there was a 22% increase?

about 3 years ago

Ari Shpanya

Ari Shpanya, co-founder at HomeShare.com

Thanks for reading, Steve and David.

Re: your question, David. There are a number of factors at play here: great pricing, effective marketing, the ease of online shopping, and the perception that the best deals can be found on Black Friday.

about 3 years ago

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