IBM Predicts Record Mobile Holiday Shopping in 2014

Armed with data from its IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark and the IBM Quarterly Retail Forecast, Big Blue is predicting record mobile shopping this holiday season.

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IBM is predicting record mobile holiday shopping this year as consumers are expected to make more than half of all their Thanksgiving Day online shopping purchases via mobile devices.

IBM released its predictions for the 2014 holiday shopping season based on billions of online and in-store transactions analyzed by the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark and IBM Quarterly Retail Forecast.

Indeed, Big Blue projects another strong shopping season, with online sales projected to increase 15 percent over the five-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. The biggest increase in online sales is expected on Cyber Monday, predicted to grow 15.8 percent, followed closely by Thanksgiving with a projected increase of 15.6 percent. Still widely considered the busiest day for in-store shopping, Black Friday online sales are expected to grow 13 percent as consumers find the best deals with their fingers as well as their feet, IBM said.

"Without question, this will be a strong holiday shopping season, supported by the power of big data and analytics, which are helping brands better understand their consumers and make crucial decisions in real-time," said Jay Henderson, director of strategy at IBM ExperienceOne, which provides customer engagement solutions and services for clients, in a statement. "Regardless of industry or time of year, the data the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark provides, is an example of the type of advanced analytics and cloud-based technologies competitive brands rely on to improve consumer engagements and overall performance."

A primary driver of online growth, mobile browsing is expected to account for 48.2 percent of all online traffic over the five-day late November to early December shopping period, an increase of 23 percent over last year. Mobile sales are also expected to rise, accounting for 24.4 percent of all online sales, up 9.5 percent year-over-year. Apple's dominance in mobile shopping experiences is also expected to continue, with iOS device traffic projected to double that of Android devices and with sales expected to quadruple.

IBM's predictions are based on historical and real-time trend data analyzed across hundreds of U.S. retail Websites. The resulting online shopping insight is based on data from IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, which, in its seventh year of holiday reporting, tracks more than 370 performance indicators. IBM's analytics helps retailers and marketers benchmark themselves against industry peers and drive more targeted customer engagements.

Among the specifics of IBM's prognostications this season, for the first time ever IBM predicts more than half of all online shopping on Thanksgiving (roughly 53 percent) will come from a mobile device, up 23 percent year-over-year. Mobile sales are also expected to grow, reaching 28 percent of all Thanksgiving online sales, an increase of more than 9 percent over 2013.

Meanwhile, smartphones will continue to lead in mobile browsing over the five-day shopping period, accounting for 29 percent of all online traffic versus 15 percent for tablets. However, IBM predicts tablets will account for twice as many mobile purchases than smartphones thanks to the larger screen size.

Moreover, as consumers become more comfortable with digital couponing, IBM predicts shoppers will save dollars this holiday season as they cash in on online deals. Consumers will spend on average $123.28 per online order over the five-day holiday period, a decrease of 2.9 percent over 2013. At the same time, the average number of items included in those purchases will be 4.4 items per order, an increase of 17 percent year-over-year.

Also, IBM predicts click-through rates for emails sent during the five-day shopping period will be 10 percent higher than the same period last year, thanks to data-driven insight that allows marketers to reduce the amount of unwanted email and instead deliver personalized and relevant promotions. The company also estimates that 35 percent of all click-throughs will happen on a mobile device. The highest volume of emails is expected on Cyber Monday.

Finally, regarding the brick-and-mortar experience, IBM says the retail industry can look forward to strong holiday in-store sales, with 4 percent growth predicted during the November and December shopping period. Health and beauty products are expected to lead the way with 4.2 percent and 4.7 percent growth, respectively, followed by women's clothing at 2.61 percent.