Consumers may be getting the gist of the true benefits when it comes to online shopping, as this year’s Black Friday became more of a hit online rather than in-stores.
Chief industry analyst at the NPD Group, Marshal Cohen says retailers have become better at integrating both in-store and online offerings. For example, providing customers with the option of shopping online and picking up their purchases at a nearby store location.
Cohen did also note that various reports show that many consumers appeared to be buying for themselves, which could hint towards gift buying later in the year.
IBM’s 2014 Black Friday report revealed that brick-and-mortar stores experienced a jump in sales online, as more people than ever before shopped on smartphone devices and tablets.
The report also demonstrated Thanksgiving Day online sales rose 14.3 percent from last year while Black Friday sales increased 9.5 percent.
IBM noted that this reflects a more knowledgeable consumer. "This trend may indicate that shoppers are becoming more comfortable and digitally savvy in how they use online coupons and rebates to secure the best bargains."
IBM also concluded that shoppers used their smartphone devices to browse but their utilized tablets to complete purchases. Smartphones accounted for 34.7 percent of all Black Friday Web traffic, compared with 14.6 percent for tablets. Tablets did however drive about 16 percent of actual online sales, while smartphones drove 11.8 percent of sales.
According to ComScore, desktop users also generated sales; jumping 32 percent to just over a record $1B on Thanksgiving Day and increased to $1.51B on Black Friday.
ComScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni weighed in, “Thanksgiving and Black Friday both saw exceptionally strong online growth rates as each day surpassed $1 billion in desktop spending.” Fulgoni then went on to say, "The strength we saw in the early online buying rush likely reflects a few things, including overall health in consumer spending, responsiveness to the strong deals being offered online, and perhaps some shoppers opting to stay home on Thanksgiving rather than head out to the stores that opened their doors early. Regardless of the particular drivers, it's clear that the online holiday rush is getting off to a very good start and is reason for optimism as we get into the heart of the buying season."
However, the NRF discovered that on average, a person who shopped both in-store and online over the holiday would spend $380.95, down 6.4 percent from $407.02 last year.
Retail giant, Wal-Mart might have found a way to make such a finding irrelevant, at least in their case. Not only did the company discount 20,000+ items in the weeks leading up to the holiday, but also increased the number of products available online from 1M to 7M and offered additional shipping methods.
These efforts did paid off, Wal-Mart set record sales over Thanksgiving.
NRF President Matthew Shay told the Times, "It's going to be a dogfight for the entire season every day, every minute,” since the NRF anticipates sales in November and December to increase by 4.1 percent to $616.9B. Shay also then went on to say, "Holiday sales are now a marathon, not a sprint."