Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Apps vs Web

This year’s Black Friday and Cyber Mondays were both blockbusters, especially for online retailers: online sales for the five shopping days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday broke all previous records, totaling more than $9 billion. Sales numbers followed a continuing trend as consumers shift from from brick-and-mortar shops to online retailers. According to Reuters, Black Friday net sales at brick-and-mortar stores fell by more than 10%, while online sales “rose in the double digits,” surpassing $3 billion on Black Friday alone. This year was especially good for mobile – Black Friday 2016 was officially the “first billion-dollar mobile shopping day in U.S. history” with mobile shopping jumping 33% from last year.

Verto Analytics looked at user time spent across four major shopping apps and websites to see how Black Friday impacted four e-commerce properties: Amazon, Macy’s, Best Buy, and Wish. We examined the aggregated amount of time that consumers (among U.S. adults, ages 18 and above) spent on each property (normalized), and differences in the amount of time they spent with a retailer’s app versus on a retailer’s website.

Confirming this year’s record-breaking mobile shopping numbers, Verto data shows that the amount of time that consumers spent on apps far exceeded that of time spent on websites. This behavior was seen across all four properties we looked at, but manifested in different ways according to each property.

Amazon

Amazon is undisputedly the reigning e-commerce site and app with 200 million unique monthly users in November (according to our latest Verto Index), and Thanksgiving weekend merely cemented the e-commerce giant’s dominance. Verto Analytics data shows that the Amazon app experienced a particularly profound increase in user time spent, spiking multiple times over the holiday weekend before peaking on Cyber Monday, when users spent more than three times the amount of time with the app compared to the previous week.

Macy’s

Macy’s has struggled in the face of increasing pressure from brick and mortar and online rivals alike; this summer, the retailer announced it was shuttering 100 stores and launching a renewed focus on e-commerce efforts. And it looks like that’s still very much a work in progress: the Macy’s website crashed for several primetime shopping hours on Black Friday, and the outage appears to have had a negative effect on shopper behavior: despite the fact that Macy’s Black Friday sales deals were valid through Saturday, user time spent on the website actually dipped on Saturday, before spiking on Cyber Monday. Macy’s website woes were good news for its app, however – user time spent with the Macy’s app was consistently higher than user time spent on the website – on Black Friday alone, users spent nearly twice as much time with the Macy’s app compared to the website. However, while the Macy’s website saw nearly 3.5 million visitors on Black Friday, the app registered less than 300,000 users. While the Macy’s app may encourage users to spend a longer browsing in-app, the retailer needs scale its users base across devices, and cultivate truly cross-device shopping behaviors across its target audience.

Best Buy

While Best Buy experienced a notable website failure during Black Friday 2014, this year’s online experience appears to have been a much smoother one. Verto data shows that user time spent on Best Buy’s app peaked on Thanksgiving itself, while time spent on its website peaked on Black Friday. Surprisingly, user time spent on Best Buy’s app actually plummeted on Cyber Monday, a day typically associated with electronics and device super sales. This effect wasn’t seen on the Best Buy website, where users spent nearly equal amounts of time on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Like Macy’s, Best Buy’s app has a relatively small audience (1.6 million users in November 2016), especially compared to its website, which saw more than 48 million visitors in November. Will Best Buy continue to develop its app as a primary channel for e-commerce, or is it focusing its efforts on its website?

Wish

Wish has emerged as a startup darling of the e-commerce sector: it’s raised more than a billion dollars since being founded in 2011. While originally founded as a mobile app, Wish also has a website, and both properties attracted about 8 million users apiece during the month of November. While this is a fraction of Amazon’s monthly traffic (which includes 68 million app users alone), Wish’s app numbers are significantly larger than Macy’s or Best Buy’s app user base over the past month. While users spend an increased amount of time with the Wish app on Black Friday, Monday, November 19 saw the greatest amount of user time spent with the app (in fact, twice the amount of time that users spent with the app on Cyber Monday). For an e-commerce upstart, this could be a smart move: pre-Black Friday promotions get to consumers wallets before offers from bigger merchants, and they may reach a less distracted target consumer. Wish also attracted greater amounts of user time at other “off-peak” shopping times during the holiday weekend; their website also experienced an increase in user time spent on Sunday, November 27 – just ahead of the Cyber Monday rush.

Interested in our consumer data for e-commerce properties? Read the Verto Index: E-Commerce, and subscribe to our newsletter for the latest insights.