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Retailers capitalize on mobile experiences to generate record revenue during Black Friday and Cyber Monday

The results are in, Black Friday and Cyber Monday broke all records in 2017 as the total revenue for these days exceeded $11.5 billion. Anticipating that more consumers would shop online, retailers invested in digital experiences and geared up for the holidays by (i) stocking fewer items in stores to reduce inventory costs and (ii) hiring few seasonal workers. Retailers' predictions were accurate, and their investment in digital experiences paid off, as close to 40% of the Black Friday revenue was generated via mobile devices.

We, at Akamai, typically see a huge surge in traffic on our platform on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and this year was no exception. Using our mPulse technology to capture real user data and correlate web and mobile performance to user behavior, we observed an overall global increase in mobile device conversion rates in 2017. Our data highlights that retailers have understood and implemented strategies to improve the digital experience for their users, and that those investments are paying off, especially on mobile devices. Here are the key trends that we observed on our platform and which resulted in a successful holiday season:

Significant increase in conversion rate on mobile devices results in another record-breaking holiday season

Mobile devices played a pivotal role during this year's holiday season. During Black Friday, mobile devices accounted for 50% of the traffic to the platform (This was 10% higher than baseline of Oct 2017 and also 20% higher as compared to Black Friday 2016). 

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Even though the mobile traffic increased during Cyber Monday as compared to last year, it was still lower as compared to the baseline traffic patterns observed during October 2017. Desktops accounted for the highest amount of traffic on Cyber Monday, which could be the result of consumers using their desktops at work to shop online during business hours. 

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We typically see an increase in conversion rates on desktops, mobile devices and tablets on Black Friday and Cyber Mondays as compared to months preceding the holidays, and this year was no exception. Conversion rates increased significantly on Black Friday and Cyber Monday as compared to October for desktops, mobile devices and tablets.

However, the increase in conversion rate for mobile devices was significantly higher (71% for Black Friday and 94% for Cyber Monday) as compared to the previous year, while conversion rates for desktops and tablets either remained flat or decreased YoY. This aligns with the industry trend in which smartphone revenue on Cyber Monday grew 32.2 % from last year, reaching a new all-time high of $1.59B.

Another interesting point is that the overall conversion rates on Black Friday were higher than those on Cyber Monday across all device types, which could be due to nearly a third of online shoppers claiming that they like the ability to easily compare prices on Cyber Monday.

Overall Image 1.pngConversion rates on iOS lower than Android devices higher average order revenue

During last year's Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the conversion rate on iOS was higher than that on Android devices. However, during this year's Black Friday, the conversion rate on Android devices exceeded the conversion rate on iOS. Thus, even though the average order revenue was higher on iOS devices, Android devices had better overall conversion rates on Black Friday 2017. This reinforces the notion that, while iOS users are generally more affluent and likely to spend more, Android users are more tech-savvy and comfortable with mobile commerce.

Overall Image 2 small.pngSignificantly increased conversion rates in markets outside U.S. shows that retailers are capitalizing on the global reach of Black Friday and Cyber Monday

A few weeks ago we experienced how Singles' Day became a true global event with more than 60,000 international brands participating in the event and customers from more than 225 countries completing purchases. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are following a similar path. The table below shows the overall conversion rates for various countries and regions. For most countries and regions, the conversion rates were not only significantly higher on Black Friday and Cyber Monday as compared to the months leading up to the holidays but were also higher as compared to the previous year. This data suggests that retailers acknowledge Black Friday and Cyber Monday as global holidays, and have made investments in various regions to improve the overall customer experience in order to capture more revenue. 

Black Friday Stat Image.pngHoliday season successful, yet malicious web traffic continues to grow

As expected, Retail experienced the most web attacks compared to other verticals. This comes as no surprise, but the increased number of attacks put retailers in a tough spot to ensure a safe and seamless experience for their global, mobile-savvy consumers. Within Retail, the industries that experienced the most web attacks were Apparel and Footwear, Commerce Portals, Web Retail and Department Stores. The most common types of web attacks were SQL Injection, Local File Inclusion and XSS, attacks that most commonly originated from the US, Russia, Netherlands, Hong Kong and UK. This leads us to conclude that web attackers got smarter and tried out diverse tactics, putting the onus on retailers to ensure that their security was top notch to ensure a safe and successful holiday shopping season.

There was a drastic increase in Bot traffic over Black Friday (106% increase as compared to non-peak traffic months) with the highest increase for Apparel and Footwear retailers (112% increase). Given that bots account for approximately 60% of website traffic, it was essential for retailers to effectively manage bot traffic (and also distinguish between good bots vs. bad bots) to prevent bots from negatively impacting customer experience by slowing down websites. The majority of the bot traffic increase was from the following bot categories - Headless Browsers (218% increase) and Impersonators of Known Bots (114% increase).

Holidays are Just Beginning

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There are still a few weeks left before the peak traffic hits your websites, apps and infrastructures again for the winter holidays. Last year, some experts predicted that Super Saturday would overtake Black Friday as 2016's busiest day, but that was not the case. However, this year, Super Saturday falls right before Christmas Day, which lends the day plenty of urgency given the masses of shoppers who will likely buy online at the last minute. If you haven't already done so, check out these resources on akamai.com/holidays to help you maximize revenue and engagement during the week leading up to the winter holidays, especially Super Saturday.