Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Mobile Thursday? Smartphone Shopping Is Still Tiny, But It’s This Year’s Big Online Buzzword.

In what has become an annual holiday tradition, those who keep track of these things have started in on touting just how digital the holiday shopper has become, whipping out all manner of buzzwords to do so.

Last year, it was Cyber Monday — this year, it’s turned out to be Mobile Thursday. What’s next? Social Network Saturday? Self-Driving Car Sunday? (We still have Black Friday, by the way, which is today.)

And, indeed, the Mobile Thursday phrase got some big laps around the track, with numerous online shopping surveys — coming out faster than you can buy that new tablet — using it in their flash reports yesterday and today.

This year’s anecdotal meme: Apple iPads go well with pumpkin pie.

What isn’t said so much is that it is still a very small number — though fast-growing — over the last few years, with overall sales reaching $500 million for Thursday, compared to about $1.2 billion on Monday, according to comScore.

Still, for now, no one seems to break out actual mobile sales figures, which are clearly still a fraction of the totals. But they are more than happy to tell you that people are certainly browsing on their mobile devices, which should come as a surprise to exactly no one who is tired of talking to the relatives about three hours into the day.

According to IBM’s Benchmark report, for example, online sales were up 17.4 percent over 2011 on Thanksgiving Day, noting that “big winners were retailers who connected customers with personalized deals across multiple screens including PCs, smartphones and tablets.”

Some stats from IBM about Thursday:

Mobile Traffic: The number of consumers using a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site reached 25.3 percent, up from 66.2 percent over 2011.

Mobile Shopping: The number of consumers using their mobile device to make a purchase increased to 18.3 percent, up 65.3 percent from 2011.

Mobile Email: Smartphone and tablet shoppers responded to email deals from retailers, with emails opened on mobile devices jumping 23 percent on Thanksgiving Day over 2011.

Couch Commerce: In the evening hours, consumers shifted from shopping through their smartphones at the dinner table to buying through their iPad on the couch. At the end of the day the iPad drove more retail traffic than any other device with traffic reaching 10.7 percent versus the iPhone at 9.1 percent and Android at 5.8 percent.

Social Shopping: Shoppers referred from Social Networks such as Facebook and Twitter increased in evening hours generating .63 percent of all online sales on Thanksgiving.

And today, Black Friday, IBM slightly upped those figures, noting that the iPhone was the preferred device to bring into a store to shop with — presumably irritating sales clerks everywhere.

Over at Fab, CEO Jason Goldberg was touting in a Betashop blog post that his mobile app sales were 40 percent of the retail site’s total for the day. It’s usually 33 percent, so it’s a small jump, which Goldberg attributed to a tweet by Apple promoting it. But how much did he sell? He’s not saying.

And eBay said it launched 20 mobile-only e-commerce promotions over its app, as did many other retailers.

Also, no surprise, the New York Times weighed in with the classic trend piece: “The Shrewd Shopper Carries a Smartphone.” Um, everyone carries a smartphone now, but it apparently gets more magical when you take it to Macy’s.

We’ll see if Mobile Thursday becomes Mobile Holiday Season, which would be a big deal — but it’s winning so far in the pundit stakes.

Until we get actual numbers, here’s a chart about the whole thing from eBay:


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