Mobile Tech Transforms Holiday Online Shopping
By Samuel Greengard
Over the last several years, online shopping has evolved into a mainstream activity. This year, an estimated $1.46 billion changed hands during the holiday cyber-shopping crush. But top-level analysis conducted by Compuware APM provides some interesting insights into trends and changing buying patterns.
Perhaps the most intriguing finding was that mobile usage soared over the Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday period. The first two days recorded a 250 percent increase in buying compared to 2011. About 12 percent of the traffic was generated by iPads. Overall, page views from iPads and iPhones swelled by 35 percent over 2011.
"This trend will re-shape online commerce strategy," notes Stephen Pierzchala, technology strategist at Compuware APM. "Mobile shoppers are now the fastest growing segment."
Web performance also improved during this year's shopping spree, and most retailers prepared adequately for the holiday shopping crush. No major retailer experienced a significant online outage, though some had slowdowns related to third-party performance issues rather than problems at the host site.
A key to boosting performance, Pierzchala says, is to ensure that third-party service providers are prepared to handle massive spikes in traffic. Upfront planning is essential. "These services may perform well during pre-holiday load tests, but in those circumstances, third-party service providers are not being bombarded with traffic from the other sites they serve," he points out.
An analysis of traffic and buying patterns showed that certain customer behaviors remain the same. For example, Cyber Monday is still the most popular day for consumers to pull the trigger on purchases. Traffic volumes were up 75 percent over Thanksgiving Day and 30 percent over Black Friday.
In fact, the Compuware Ecommerce and Retail Real User Measurement Index found that Cyber Monday sales were up more than 24 percent over 2011. This indicates that this holiday shopping season, especially for online commerce, will likely be the biggest ever, Pierzchala notes.
The fastest retailer sites on Cyber Monday 2012 were Apple, Costco, JC Penney, Dell and Overstock. The fastest mobile Web home pages were Office Depot, Barnes and Noble, Williams-Sonoma, Buy.com and HSN.
The number of page views for the entire weekend, Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, reached nearly 15 million per hour on Monday. Overall, about 68 percent of the traffic originated from Windows PCs, 16 percent from Macs, 12 percent from iPads, and approximately 4 percent from smartphones and various other devices.
The implications and ramifications of this post-PC retailing space are huge.
"The explosion of mobile shopping this year shows that this segment of visitors and buyers are not just a curiosity, but a true market force," Pierzchala observes. "Just as companies began to get a handle on the performance of desktop sites, they now need to focus on mobile performance and the items they put on their sites. Performance affects both revenue and the brand."