Holiday e-commerce shopping is off to a record-setting start, with Black Friday recording its highest-ever online sales of $3.3 billion and mobile revenue for the day reaching $1.2 billion for the first time in U.S. retail history.
Cyber Monday is expected to see similar gains in mobile traffic, as more and more shoppers favor shopping online via a smartphone or tablet, versus on their desktop computers.
As of Monday morning, about 46% of consumers browsed Cyber Monday deals on their smartphone, while 43% of consumers did so on a desktop, according to data from Adobe. Those numbers could change by later in the day, however, as mobile activity tends to see an uptick during the morning and evening commuting hours, while desktop viewing is typically favored mid-day when consumers are at the office, said Morningstar Analyst Neil Doshi by phone.
However, many Cyber Monday deals this year were moved back to Black Friday, Doshi added. This could be a result of consumers wanting to get a head start on holiday shopping.
"With the full day total coming in at $3.34 billion, Black Friday may have just dethroned Cyber Monday's position as the largest online shopping day of the year," said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst and director for Adobe Digital Insights, in a statement.
The surge in mobile activity is being driven in part by companies improving their mobile website experience, as well as integrating quicker, more user-friendly payment processing technologies, such as Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google Pay and Apple's (AAPL) Apple Pay. The technology saves shoppers the trouble of entering payment information for every purchase by automatically loading credit card details.
"The 2016 holiday shopping season is the tipping point for mobile shopping," said Shawn DuBravac, chief economist at the Consumer Technology Association, in a statement. "Consumers are shifting increasingly to mobile shopping, due to higher ownership rates of mobile devices and increasing ease, comfort and convenience."
A sticking point seems to lie in mobile conversions, or how frequently browsers become buyers. "I think that's definitely an issue on the mobile side," Doshi said. "I would suspect that as mobile sites improve and they implement better technology in terms of payment, that gap should improve."
Desktop still led in conversion rates at 5.5% on Black Friday, compared to 4.6% on tablets and 2.4% on smartphones, Adobe noted.
That shift to mobile from desktop mirrors the earlier movement to online shopping from in-store shopping, Doshi said. As more consumers become comfortable with making purchases on their smartphones, the shift to mobile should accelerate.
"If this conversion continues to pick up, that'll drive more advertising dollars to mobile," Doshi noted.