Cyber Weekend 2017: the year mobile toppled desktop for sales

This year it's consumer shopping behaviour that should grab marketer attention, not the amount spent.

While it’s no secret that mobile and tablet devices have been catching up with desktop in recent years, 2017 is the year they overtook it.

This is welcome news for those brands who have been proactive in developing multichannel mobile engagement strategies to connect the experience shoppers enjoy on their desktops, together with their mobile and tablet devices.

However, for those who haven’t optimised for the touchscreen, be that mobile, app or tablet, alarm bells will be ringing as we continue towards the Christmas holidays and beyond.

Mobile browser confidence grew into mobile buyer confidence

More than a third of UK sales were made on mobile this Black Friday with 15% made via tablet and 49% attributed to desktop. These insights highlight the increased shopper confidence on mobile devices and suggest decided improvement in mobile UX and checkout systems by retailers. 

Early indications also show this trend bleeding into Cyber Monday, with 60% of all sales attributed to a mobile or tablet device, between the hours of 6am and 9am in the UK.

It’s long been the trend that consumers are becoming more and more happy to browse possible purchases on mobile and tablet. But traditionally, when ready to make a purchase, they would then resort to desktop to take the final steps. This new Ve Global data shows, however, that UK customers are getting steadily more comfortable making purchases, not just browsing, on mobile and tablet.

In London, the mobile sales figure rises even higher above the wider UK’s 36% to a substantial 43%. However, it appears that Londoners are less inclined to make a purchase via tablet, with only 6% of sales made on this device, compared to the UK’s distinctly higher tablet use of 15%.

Ve Global’s planning and strategic director, Rob Jones, believes the retail industry has strongly contributed to this shift in mobile behaviour: 

"The best retailers have evolved beyond ensuring their sites are mobile-optimised to ensuring their strategies are mobile-first. Simpler and more intuitive mobile experiences are helping shoppers to make purchases with ease and confidence."

UK shoppers frontloaded their day on mobile

Between the hours of 6am and 9am, shoppers in the UK were keen to browse on mobile, with 59% of browsing taking place on mobile as well as 50% of sales. This is up massively from 2016, when just 43% of traffic was via mobile.

These trends were even more pronounced in London, with 63% of browsing taking place on mobile across the three hours, and 55% of purchases attributed to mobile. We can reasonably expect that the extensive mobile activity at this time is at least in part due to it being the hours between waking up and beginning the standard workday.

Across Europe and including the UK, the average peak hour of the day for both traffic and sales was 4pm. Interestingly, however, in London, the peak hour for traffic was 6pm and for sales was 7pm, suggesting that Londoners preferred to purchase in the hours after work and into the evening. In Ireland the opposite trend was seen with sales peaking at 9am, implying that Irish shoppers were eager to seek out an early online bargain.

Programmatic display ad conversions in the UK soared between 7am and 9am

The total uplift in conversions generated through programmatic display was a huge 139% on Black Friday compared to an average November Friday, highlighting the growing acceptance of this advertising medium in the path to purchase.

This figure reached a peak of 232% between the hours of 7am and 9am, suggesting that UK browsers are most receptive to display ads in the hours before the typical workday begins.

Black Friday gained momentum in the European market

Europe as a whole enjoyed a very positive 391% uplift in sales on Black Friday compared with an average Friday in November, effectively proving how popular the shopping event is becoming. 

While this figure is impressive, in Nordic regions, the sales uplift on Black Friday was an enormous 1,189%. The Nordic uplift in traffic also mirrored this trend, achieving a 315% uplift on an average November Friday compared to the 132% for wider Europe.

Countries in the DACH (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) region also enjoyed a healthy sales uplift of 410% compared to an average November Friday.  However, whilst other European regions are choosing to use mobile more and more for browsing and purchasing, DACH consumers bucked the trend and continued to rely on desktop to browse (52% compared to wider Europe’s 49%) and to purchase (63% compared to Europe’s 57%). 

Cyber Monday has a slow start compared to Black Friday

Early signs suggest that the UK has had a sleepy start to Cyber Monday, with the 6am to 9am uplift in sales at 147% compared to an average November Monday. While this figure is certainly positive, it is dramatically lower than Black Friday’s sales uplift of 350% across the same time period. This trend also applies to traffic, with the Black Friday traffic uplift over these three hours at 137%, compared to Cyber Monday’s humble 30%.

These figures certainly suggest that UK shoppers have been less inclined to browse and purchase on Cyber Monday compared to Black Friday so far, but we’ll only be able to draw a fair and complete comparison once all the data is in.

Sam Behar is UK commercial director for Ve Global

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