Super Bowl Spread

Mobile did better than the Atlanta Falcons on Super Bowl Sunday


Super Bowl Spread

Just as I was sure that the Atlanta Falcons would surprise a lot of people by beating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI, I was certain that Super Bowl Sunday would provide us with a fascinating snapshot at the rise of mobile as a tool for e-commerce buying.

But that’s why they play the games — and why we check the data.

As the world knows by now, the only surprise the Atlanta Falcons offered sports fans was the unprecedented way they blew a 25-point third-quarter lead in the biggest game on Earth.

And my mobile-mania theory? I can say it wasn’t crushed as devastatingly as the Falcons, but it didn’t really pan out the way I thought it would either.

My plan: take a look at BloomReach e-commerce data for a month of Sundays (give or take) and Super Bowl Sunday to see how consumer habits change on the day of the big game.

Mobile wins on any given Sunday

It turns out, they don’t, really. True, smartphones accounted for 28 percent of online orders on Super Bowl Sunday, according to data across BloomReach e-commerce customers. And that is seven percentage points higher than the phone’s average for the year so far. But it’s only slightly higher than smartphones’ 24 percent share of conversions on 2017 Sundays without “Super Bowl” in their names.

chart showing percentage of e-commerce purchases by device

If you broaden the definition of “mobile” to include tablets, then the category accounted for 43 percent of conversions on Super Bowl Sunday, compared to an average of 36 percent of conversions on 2017 Sundays and an average 30 percent of daily conversions for the year so far.

And so maybe there is an argument that Super Bowl Sunday is a mobile day. You could certainly make the argument that mobile is a big deal on Sundays, perhaps because it’s a day when people are on the move.

On average, smartphones captured 25 percent of orders on Sundays so far in 2017. That’s four percentage points higher than the daily average. Add in tablets and mobile is at 37 percent of conversions on Sundays, compared to the 30 percent daily average.

That said, I went into the big game pretty certain that mobile conversions would see a fairly significant bump, given the nature of Super Bowl Sunday. The day is essentially a holiday — a day when family and friends gather for the express purpose of eating, drinking, watching the game and the halftime show and commercials that break up the action.

I think it’s fair to say most gatherings include people who have varying degrees of interest in the game itself. Some may become antsy and in search of distraction. In fact, the day sounds to me a lot like Thanksgiving, which has become a big shopping day and a big mobile day.

No compelling reason to buy on Super Bowl Sunday

OK, I’ll start with the obvious: The Super Bowl isn’t played a month before Christmas and so unlike Thanksgiving, the Super Bowl isn’t in the midst of the biggest shopping season of the year. There simply isn’t the same motivation to shop.

Nonetheless, I figured on Super Sunday, members of the captive audience would to a greater extent turn to their phones during slow periods of the game, during commercials and perhaps during lulls in the pre-game conversation.

Maybe a better way to look at mobile and Super Bowl LI, though, is to compare it to Super Bowl L a year ago. And by that count, mobile is gaining on Super Bowl Sunday.

A similar look at data across BloomReach e-commerce customers shows that last February, smartphones accounted for 22 percent of conversions on Super Bowl Sunday. Throw in tablets and mobile accounted for 36 percent of orders.

This year’s higher numbers are not necessarily a surprise given the rapid rate at which mobile visits and conversions are rising in the online world. But the steady increase is a strong sign that retailers need to continue working on improving their mobile experiences to keep up with customers’ evolving habits.

I’d also say it’s a good bet that, that mobile figure will be considerably higher on Super Bowl Sunday 2018. Then again, maybe I should just lay off the predictions and wait for the data.

Photo of Super Bowl spread by switz1873 published under Creative Commons license.

Mike Cassidy is BloomReach’s storyteller. Contact him at; follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy.



How to repair the broken mobile experience


Shopping at the Undon Market in Thailand

You know that post-holiday feeling?

You look back at all the excitement, the fun, the family, food, gifts, sparkling lights, sense of nostalgia and joy. And then, early in the new year, the bill comes due.

Same goes for mobile shopping. So much excitement around mobile this holiday season. Now, it turns out, when it comes to the mobile experience, the bill has come due.

Sure, the mobile buzz was deafening during the holiday shopping season. Mobile traffic and purchases hit records by various counts. The company formerly known as Demandware found that 52 percent of shopping visits were mobile during the peak season. More interesting for retailers, Demandware (now Salesforce Commerce Cloud) found that mobile accounted for 31 percent of purchases during the holiday season, up from 25 percent in 2016.

BloomReach’s own data showed similar trends. In fact, on the weekend before Christmas, site visits via smartphones eclipsed visits on the desktop, data from across BloomReach retail customers showed.  And throughout the days leading up to Christmas, mobile (as in smartphones) came on strong in terms of visits, product views and conversions, reaching 28 percent of purchases on the last full weekend of the season.

So, what’s this bill-coming-due talk?

Mobile is raging despite poor experiences

It turns out that the mobile surge is raging in spite of the customer experience that enterprises are offering rather than because of them. A recent (January 2017) Forrester report, “Reinvent the web to win the mobile moment,” states that “mobile websites are still broken.”

In fact, the authors write that they can’t name three mobile sites they love — this despite all the effort and money businesses have poured into their mobile sites. They are not simply cursing the darkness, however.

There is hope for digital professionals who are ready to build app-like mobile experiences and take the time to understand just what it is consumers are trying to accomplish on mobile. All of which is going to cost money, perhaps a 20 percent to 100 percent increase in a company’s current spending on digital initiatives.

The message is pretty clear: Simply offering a miniature desktop site on mobile is no longer acceptable to consumers who have come to expect sophisticated and personalized digital experiences. Customers today don’t use smartphones and desktops for the same things. Those designing the mobile experiences, need to be mindful of that and they need to design the mobile experience accordingly.

“It’s mobile. It goes everywhere,” says Rick Kenney, head of consumer insights at Salesforce Commerce Cloud. “That means the store — it’s going to be there with the shopper while she’s in store. It’s going to be there with the shopper if she’s waiting for the train. It’s going to be there when she’s in a mode where she might actually have few extra moments to do something too. The other devices don’t do that.”

That said, Kenney sees progress with the mobile experience. The recent adoption of Apple Pay by a number of retailers is one sign, he says. One-click checkout addresses a major ugh factor for mobile — being faced with long checkout forms. And retailers will continue to push forward, he says.

“We’re seeing good retailer adoption of new technologies,” Kenney says. “We’re certainly seeing consumer adoption of using mobile web, in particular.”

The expectation and stakes are high for mobile experiences

The stakes for improving the mobile experience are high. Writing on Salesforce’s blog about the company’s “All Wrapped Up: 2016 Christmas Holiday Shopping Recap,” Kenney made a point we’ve made before: Holiday shopping trends are not only interesting for what they say about what just happened. They’re interesting for what they say about what is about to happen.

“Cyber Week and the big weeks that follow set the tone for the next twelve months of shopping, establishing the new normal for shopping behavior, as the intense period of shopping leads consumers to adopt new technologies and shopping habits.The migration to mobile and increased use of social media as a gateway to commerce are clear examples that the shopping season is a harbinger of what’s to come in the year ahead.”

“When you do something repeatedly and in some form of intensity for a short time, like we do shopping during cyber week, that’s the stuff that sticks with you,” Kenney explains. “That’s why I expect the highest mobile season ever will carry on right into this year.”

Rick Kenney, Salesforce

The same with social as a shopping channel, which Kenney says emerged prominently in the holiday season.

Commerce is clearly moving to digital. Salesforce’s recap says digital revenue grew 36 percent during Cyber Week 2016 over the year before. Globally, revenue was up 38 percent for the week, which Salesforce defines as the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday.

And digital is clearly moving to mobile, as is evident from BloomReach and Salesforce data. And so, as Forrester says, “You have no option — you must make your mobile web work great on phones.”

How? Forrester has a few suggestions. (Not just cursing the darkness, remember?)

  • Reinvent the web for mobile moments: Use app-like design and turn to progressive design to take advantage of browsers’ capabilities. Simply adopting responsive design or building an site aren’t enough anymore. Look at your mobile sites as a user would. What are consumers trying to accomplish when visiting your mobile sites? Make sure they can do that simply and quickly.
  • Make sure the metrics you use to measure mobile success line up with the primary purposes behind your mobile site. Your mobile site doesn’t exist to serve the same customer needs as your desktop site, so why would the success metrics for the two be the same?
  • Break up your silos. In order to build meaningful mobile experiences, make sure your web team, design team, IT team are working as one team. Consider placing them all under one executive responsible for mobile’s success.

There are practical steps to take to fix your mobile web experience so it is no longer broken. Maybe they will even get you to the point where researchers like Forrester will actually love your site.

But it seems clear the first step for those looking to fix mobile, is to redesign their thinking. Mobile isn’t going away. It’s a thing. And it’s a thing that is very different from the desktop experience.

Mike Cassidy is BloomReach’s storyteller. Contact him at; follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy.

Photo of shopper by Insights Unspoken published under Creative Commons license. Photo of Rick Kenney, courtesy of Salesforce.


Datacember 4: Consumers are choosy about devices when holiday shopping


Datacember keeps its promises.

After picking through the leftover data of the Thanksgiving weekend earlier this week, we said we’d next take a look at not just how many people bought and when, but on what device.

It’s a critical issue for retailers who need to understand where their customers are coming from — so to speak — in order to tailor offers, design mobile strategies and figure out where to spend money to attract and then keep customers.

And it turns out there were definite daily shopping patterns over the long holiday weekend. Most noticeable were the contrasting preferences of consumers on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. And Cyber Monday had it’s own distinctive flair when it came to device of choice, all of which we will get to.

Key takeaways

    Consumers lean more heavily on mobile during some holiday shopping days than others. Retailers should pay attention in order to provide the most effective promotions and to better understand what sort of experience customers are looking for at any given time.

Mobile is again a headliner in the story of early holiday shopping. Mobile has been a huge story for years, but one that confounds retailers trying to maximize the device’s potential. Its importance tends to be magnified during the holiday season, perhaps because consumers feel more time constrained or perhaps because everything seems more magnified during the holiday season.

This year mobile is again bursting out of the gate, setting records and showing every sign that it is the future of digital commerce.

But interestingly enough, when it came to the percentage of sales booked on mobile, Black Friday came in second over the Thanksgiving weekend. The winner, as you can see below, was Thanksgiving Day itself.

Graph showing conversions by device over the Thanksgiving weekend

Mobile accounted for 44 percent of conversions on Thanksgiving — 31 percent on smartphones and another 13 percent on tablets.

On Black Friday, that billion-dollar mobile day, only 36 percent of conversion were made on mobile devices — 25 percent on smartphones and 11 percent on tablets. On Cyber Monday, mobile accounted for only 31 percent of conversions — 22 percent on smartphones and 9 percent on tablet.

It’s important to note, of course, that as digital shopping days, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are much bigger days than Thanksgiving, which only recently started coming into its own as a significant shopping day.

And it is definitely riding the mobile gravy (and mashed potatoes?) train. Last year, for instance, mobile accounted for only 34.5 percent of conversions on Thanksgiving, according to BloomReach data, 22 percent of that being on smartphones.

So what’s behind consumers’ device preferences on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday — the first big three shopping days of the holiday season? Datacember is not past speculating.

Start with Thanksgiving. Sure it’s a day off for many, but there are still commitments. It’s a day for visiting relatives. A rare day for some, when the whole family — and more — sit down to eat dinner at the same time.

There are hours of football on television, of passing interest to some and of no interest to others. And so what do people do between conversations and after dinner and at halftime or during commercials? Shop and buy.

Black Friday is a different animal. Black Friday traditionally has meant: Hit the stores. That appears to be fading and the day is becoming a laboratory for omnichannel shopping. Datacember pointed out earlier this week that Black Friday online buying peaks in the morning, falls off, and then has another surge in the evening.

It sounds like the morning is for researching and buying items (perhaps can’t-miss promotions); midday is for hitting the malls for buying and showrooming and evening is for shoppers returning to digital sites to buy what they couldn’t find or what they couldn’t find at the price they wanted.

Is it just us, or does that sound like a day more attuned to shopping on a laptop or desktop?

And what’s with Cyber Monday coming in with 69 percent of conversions on desktop? Well, its roots are in the desktop. Remember the original Black Friday notion was that online sales took off on the Monday after Thanksgiving, when workers returned to the office — and the high-speed internet connections they lacked at home.

Of course, Datacember has demonstrated how that behavior seems to have shifted as residential internet speeds have raced ahead. And yet, could it be that old habits die hard and consumers head for the laptop or desktop at home?

Possible. But maybe more likely is the notion that by the evening of Cyber Monday consumers are ready to buy. After a weekend of researching and contemplating, they know what they want and where they want it from.

In fact, if we look at the BloomReach Browse vs. Buy Index for Thanksgiving week, it’s clear that on Cyber Monday, consumers showed the greatest intent to buy. The index compares the number of products viewed per conversion. Anything under the red line indicates shoppers were looking at fewer products for each conversion — indicating buying, not browsing behavior.

Chart of Product views vs. conversions


And so given that strong intent, why not go to the laptop, which despite improvements in mobile, still seems a more nimble shopping tool than the trusty smartphone?

After all, despite all the attention that mobile grabs, the desktop (which is actually probably more “the laptop”) remains holiday buying’s workhorse — for now. We’ll check back in on this trend later in Datacember.

Photo by Mike Cassidy. Chart source: BloomReach.

Mike Cassidy is BloomReach’s storyteller. Contact him at Follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy.