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The Cyber Sales Lessons of Thanksgiving 2011

By all accounts, online sales on Thanksgiving and Black Friday were a success – with similar activity expected for Cyber Monday. Total visits to the top 500 retail sites increased 9% on Thanksgiving Day, according to Experian Hitwise. On Black Friday, total visits to the top 500 retail sites increased 2%, compared to 2010.

comScore has reported that e-commerce spending jumped 26% on Black Friday, compared with the same day a year ago. It also reported $816 million in online sales for the day, up from $648 million. Assuming that Cyber Monday does mimic this level of activity, there are a few key lessons retailers should take to heart from this holiday season, so far.

If you don't have a mobile strategy in place, get one now. Mobile sales as a percentage of e-commerce transactions on Black Friday and Thanksgiving were about 10.3%, according to IBM Smarter Commerce. In addition, 17% of all shoppers are using mobile devices.  That is a significant jump from even two years ago when mobile sales were roughly 1% of online sales during this time period.

Pay special attention to your Apple device-owning mobile customers. IBM Smarter Commerce also found that Apple device owners were among the leading mobile purchasers. On Thanksgiving and Black Friday, the iPhone and iPad ranked one and two for consumers shopping on mobile devices (5.4% and 4.8% respectively). Android came in third at 4.1%.

Also, the iPad made more retail purchases more often per visit than other mobile devices with conversion rates reaching 4.6% compared to 2.8% for overall mobile devices.

An integrated multichannel strategy is also important. More than seven out of 10 (71%) consumers surveyed by Deloitte said they would engage in multichannel shopping this Thanksgiving Day-Black Friday. A typical example would be purchasing an item in-store after viewing it online. Nearly one-third, or 32%, of Deloitte’s survey respondents said it is important that retailers have both a store and a website.

Follow the leader. Companies such as Wal-Mart and Amazon are implementing progressive integrated mobile strategies – with their success reflected in their sales numbers. According to Experian Hitwise, Amazon was the top retail site receiving traffic on Black Friday for the 7th year in a row, Walmart was the 2nd most visited retail site followed by Best Buy. Also, Kohl's visits increased 33% on Black Friday 2011 vs. 2010 representing the biggest increase among the top 10 sites.

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