In US stores, sales and footfall were down 10%, according to ShopperTrak; in the UK, we saw footage of empty stores on the morning of Black Friday.

Yep, there seemed to be something different about Black Friday this year, with retailers increasingly embracing ecommerce.

change in retailer strategy was well documented. Longer sales, more considered discounts, more discounts available online (and earlier); all these changes herald the beginning of what is now a shopping season, not a one-off event before Christmas.

Let’s look at how have retailer strategy might have correlated with consumer transactions and traffic online.

Luckily for us, this IBM report gives  a useful overview of online transactions and traffic, alongside some analysis of sentiment around particular brands and products (using Watson, the supercomputer).

You can also read our roundup of all the stats and predictions that were published prior to the big weekend.

Conversion rates were up (as retailers prioritised online and kept customers informed?)

Conversion rate was a healthy 4.4%, an increase of 6.33% on 2014’s figure.

It’s possible this is because shoppers are ever more prepared, researching deals in the lead up to Black Friday (when many have already begun or been heavily advertised).

For example, lots of retailers were offering email signups promising to alert the user when new deals were released. This meant customers were ready to pounce when Black Friday came.

Of course, a more salient point is that fewer shoppers in bricks-and-mortar stores meant more serious bargain hunters online, which was likely to increase conversion.

Proportion of mobile traffic and sales increases (as shopping habits change?)

Mobile traffic represented 57.2% of all ecommerce traffic on Black Friday, up from just below 50% in 2014.

Sales on mobile leapt, too, now accounting for 36.2% of transactions (up from 27.9%).

This shows clearly that more retailers are providing convincing mobile experiences and more consumers are happy to buy on a smartphone.

It should be noted that this mobile figure includes tablet, always slightly confusing, given the ‘lean back’ style of purchase on tablet (at home).

The second chart below shows that tablet punched above its (traffic) weight for sales, with 20.6% a more accurate figure for mobile sales.

black friday mobile sales and traffic 

mobile, tablet, desktop usage on black friday

Shopping cart sessions were up but cart conversion was down (because more are on mobile?)

15.36% of shopping sessions online saw at least one item added to basket. This was a 16.1% increase on 2014.

Despite more adding of items to cart, cart conversion was down (-1.38%, at 27.19%) and abandonments were up (0.52%, at 72.81%).

This could possibly be explained by the increase in mobile traffic, with sessions more likely to be interrupted, or terminated in favour of switching to dekstop.

Browsing, page views and product views were up (as more discounts move online?)

Shoppers online were more often browsing products (50.6% of visits), with an increased number of page views (8.76) and product views (2.59).

This may be explained by retailers deciding to offer more deals than before. Indeed, the big players such as Walmart, Target and Best Buy put nearly all deals online for the first time.

Average order value was down (as consumers are more discount minded?)

Average order value online was down 1.18%, at $127.84.

It could be posited that with more people engaging with Black Friday online, the discount mentality has increased further.

However, this decrease could simply reflect the longer period of discounting from retailers, with buyers purchasing before and after Black Friday, too.

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