IBM Report Details Not Just How Much is Spent But How It’s Spent

In 2012, the coverage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday became as much a part of the story as the actual shopping that was being reported. This is thefifth year that IBM has prepared its Holiday Shopping Report, and it was able to report in near real time the kind of activity that was under way and the impact it was having on the retail industry during this critical period. The information was very insightful in that it included not just the volume of business that was happening, but how consumers were making their Black Friday purchases.

Cross-channel shopping was certainly a big hit, as 58% of mobile customers were using their devices while shopping in the traditional stores. There are those who would say, “that’s showrooming in action.” And while that may be true, it would also be fair to say that any retailer that had a multichannel presence was going to benefit from the condition. With all the traffic congestion on the roads I just can’t see anyone driving to another mall to get a better price. Mobile devices represented 16.3% of all online sales, so people are using them to enhance and enable their shopping expeditions. The smartphone is still the form factor of choice over the tablet with almost 59% of mobile shoppers using their phones as the way to shop and buy.

Category information also featured prominently in the report. Home items led the way with a 28.2% increase over last year’s sales. Interestingly enough, while many people mourn the death of the department store at the hands of specialty and big-box retailers, the department stores saw an increase of 16.8% against the previous year.

The data collected by IBM shows similar trends and consumer behaviors to those of recent years. The volume of transactions and dollars, however, are much higher than we’ve seen over the last two years. The spike on Black Friday attributed to in-store sales corresponded to the early opening of most retailers.

Cyber Monday demonstrates a higher trend in the after-dinner hours with a sharp drop occurring at about 9pm, (is it coincidence that this is the start of prime time on television?). Online shopping, however, is fairly consistent through the day; clearly, a great deal of shopping is happening while most of us are sitting in our cubicles at work.

This year’s reports, centered on current sales trends and social sentiment, struck a chord and stirred interest and debate on the evolution of the digital consumer, “couch commerce,” multichannel and multiscreen shopping, the new mobile shopper and the impact of social media on sales and marketing. The findings drive brand eminence for their Smarter Commerce offerings and highlight the continued opportunity for CMOs to adopt an approach to an intelligent buying experience for their customers.

The question to be asked now is: How can today’s retailer can take advantage of this knowledge and put it to use to compete in the marketplace? The winners will be marketers who use technology to deliver customer experiences that not only connect shoppers with personalized offers but do so at the right touch point and at precisely the right time and place, whether on the couch or in the store.

Dave Rodgerson is the senior managing consultant for IBM’s Retail Strategy & Transformation practice.



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