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Mobile surges ahead driving a record start to the holiday season

Retailers can look back on the start of this holiday season and breath a sigh of relief that all signs point to another strong holiday season. According to figures released by Adobe, Cyber Monday closed with $3.07 billion in sales setting a new single day sales record. Black Friday also set records and marked the highest spike over the five-day shopping weekend with a 109 percent jump in traffic, according to Akamai's Net Usage Index.*

Driving this trend was the continued growth of mobile device usage. A sampling of top retailers using the Akamai network during Black Friday and Cyber Monday showed that 42.4 percent of users were on a desktop and a whopping 57.6 percent were on mobile or tablet devices with some individual retailers boasting mobile numbers in excess of 70 percent. IBM's Watson data showed an increase in mobile sales to 36.2 percent, an increase of 30 percent over last year.

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Based on the surge in mobile activity, it would appear that mobile devices have become the go-to device for consumers to research products, and check prices or availability. For Akamai's customers, this generated a significant spike in mobile users accessing sites via cellular networks. On Black Friday, we detected a 303 percent increase in the number of websites being accessed by cellular networks. Many consumers were obviously using their devices while on the go, as opposed to leveraging home or business Wi-Fi networks.

While the increased reliance on mobile devices shows that consumers are growing more comfortable with using smaller screens to shop, providing stellar experiences over a cellular network can be challenging for retailers. It's difficult enough to provide a great customer experience on high-capacity, fixed Internet connection, but once consumers are on a cellular network, congestion and latency can easily leave consumers frustrated as they watch their browsers spin. One key way retailers can improve the experience on cellular is to optimize large assets like images by properly sizing them for the device and using technology like Adaptive Image Compression to compress images based on the device and network conditions.

Mobile continues to hit new peaks as we move further into the holiday season, make sure your mobile experience is optimized to meet consumers' growing expectations.

*Note: Akamai's data is based on a sampling of the company's retail customers - it is not representative of Akamai's total traffic. Also, because the list grows and changes annually, year-over-year comparisons are not exact. Rather, the data is considered representative of trends and fluctuations in the eCommerce industry because of Akamai's significant customer base and insights into the activities on online retailers' websites.

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