For those who were living under a rock during the past few weeks, online sales are skyrocketing this holiday season. Black Friday and Cyber Monday alone represent the No. 1 and No. 3 all-time highest days for online sales, totaling a combined $3.28 billion, according to Adobe's Digital Index. To put that into perspective, it's more than the annual profits of Coca-Cola, Xerox, Radioshack, CBS, Southwest Airlines, JC Penny, and Petsmart -- combined.
While this growth is pretty much in line with recent trends in online sales, a stat that should really stand out from Cyber Monday is the increase in mobile. Mobile sales grew 234 percent compared to Cyber Monday 2011, reaching $436 million. This quick shift is a large indicator of the coming mobile avalanche, and is a barometer for migrating consumer habits.
It's not so much that people are truly buying that much more, but that their consumption habits are beginning to shift.
A Mobile State of Mind
While it may seem like everybody has a smartphone, the truth is, smartphone adoption is nowhere near its peak. In the United States alone there are more than 110 million people who still have yet to own their first smartphone.
Tablets, on the other hand, are skyrocketing in growth, reaching 40 million in the US in 2012. In only three years on the market, tablets have reached a market penetration that took smartphones nine years.
Usage behavior is transitioning, purchasing will soon follow
Rapid growth of mobile device ownership is only half of the story. Consumer habits are quickly shifting as more people begin to use their smartphone and tablet as their first, or only, form of Internet interaction. So far, purchasing power has yet to catch up to overall usage of mobile devices. However, this trend can't last forever, and when you dive into the numbers, you can see that the 22 percent of sales that occurred via mobile devices is a foreshadowing of this shift.
Market research firm comScore estimates that in the fourth quarter of 2012, between 12 percent and 13 percent of online transactions will occur via mobile device.
In a recent report, the IDC projected that by 2015, more Internet users will access the web via a mobile device than by wireline devices, and by 2016, there will 225 million PC users versus 265 million users of mobile devices.
The trend is also expected to expand beyond retail consumption and into schools. In April 2012, the FCC projected that if schools were to replace textbooks with tablets, the total savings for US schools would be $3 billion per year -- essentially half the cost of purchasing textbooks.
While it's hard to say for sure what will happen, the numbers from Cyber Monday certainly seem to indicate that the shift is actually happening faster than many of the projections indicate.