Data Insights

The art of ‘add to cart’: optimizing for the biggest shopping weekend of the year

Alana Tees

Checkouts ring / are you listening? Your favorite chain / has free shipping… It’s no secret that this weekend’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday doubleheader presents a wonderland of opportunity for online retailers. Industry experts predict that online sales alone will surpass $12 billion—a staggering 25 percent year-over-year increase for the same weekend in 2018.  

But what exactly does consumer demand tell us about category-leading online retailers today? The answer, as you might’ve guessed, lies in the data.

Released last month, our 2019 Product Benchmarks Report compiled data from 1.2 billion active users over the past year to reveal insights on best-in-class companies across Finance, Media, SaaS, and eCommerce. The common thread? The gap between the average and the best products is getting wider. The best (90th percentile) products grow 18X faster than average products.

So what is it that the best-in-the-biz products have in common, and what can we learn? 

Below, we dive deeper into some of the product qualities shared by leading eCommerce brands today (i.e., the ones whose sale items we’ll be gobbling up this weekend).

They’re mobile-first

Our report found that—across all industries—new user growth is driven primarily by mobile. A subsequent decline in desktop user growth signals that improving mobile experiences is now standard practice for any business. This insight is particularly important for the online shopping sector, where retailers are seeing negative growth in desktop users and a surge in mobile users.

Mixpanel 2019 Product Benchmarks Report

In 2018, TechCrunch reported that more than one-third (33.5 percent) of all online sales on Black Friday (US) came from smartphones, to the tune of $2.1 billion. With another 10 percent coming from tablets, mobile overall is approaching half of all transactions — a major milestone for the annual shopping bonanza. Our key takeaway for product and growth leaders? Building online shopping experiences without keeping mobile users top of mind is no longer an option.

A recent report on ‘Devices and Demographics’ compiled by digital advertising company Fluent found that “Millennials and Gen Z are 24% more likely than their older counterparts to favor smartphones for making purchases, and they are armed with mobile apps to do so.” Meanwhile, the 35+ contingent is 29% more inclined to convert on a desktop or laptop computer—but if they do end up making a mobile purchase, this demographic is likely to navigate their way through the checkout process on a mobile website.

Side dish: the same report found that brands can boost their mobile shopping success by improving their site navigation, upping website speed, and offering one-click purchases to customers perusing on mobile.

At the end of the day, optimizing for mobile isn’t the same as building for it. Need more proof? According to our report, mobile apps in eCommerce enjoy almost 10X the first-week activation rates of desktop and mobile web (for the actions “add to cart” or ”check out”).

Add that to the cornucopia of reasons for businesses to accelerate the transition from mobile-friendly to mobile-first.

They deeply understand their customers, including when they’re buying, and why

Fun fact: our 2019 Product Benchmarks Report revealed that customers shop more during the workweek than on weekends—a habit that’s been consistent since the origins of online shopping. In the early days of eCommerce (we’re talking dial-up modems), people preferred to shop at the office using fast computers and high-speed connections. Monday proved a lucrative day for online retailers, so they embraced it (that’s how we ended up with Cyber Monday instead of Cyber Saturday).

ecommerce benchmarks 2019
User activity by day of the week (% change in DAU compared to weekly average). Mixpanel 2019 Product Benchmarks Report.

Trivia aside, what can shopping patterns tell us about how customers are engaging with digital products? Moreover, what data can innovative e-retailers harness to grow an engaged customer base that’s both checked in, and checking out?

According to Google’s just-released behavioral insights into 2019 holiday shoppers, 37 percent of shopping has been completed before the week of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Additionally, ”lowest prices”, “free shipping” and “fast delivery” are among the top factors influencing buying decisions based on search data.

Combine this with insights from the first section of this article, and we can start to paint a picture of today’s consumer—shopping when they want, and how they want. The takeaway: speed matters. Craft your customer’s digital experiences accordingly.

They’re innovating along the consumer lifecycle, with deep personalization and rewards

Based on data from our benchmarks report, we know that monthly average user retention is low across all industries (less than 5 percent) and extremely low in eCommerce (a mere 1 percent). It could be that online shoppers are a fickle bunch or simply don’t shop very frequently; the data can’t say for sure.

On the flip side, the same Google behavioral insights report cited above found that mobile searches for “rewards apps” and “black Friday deals” are up 200 percent this year(!)—a fascinating insight that points to consumers’ growing hunger for mobile shopping experiences, on their terms.

Herein lies the opportunity for online retailers: armed with the right user data, businesses can personalize their lifecycle marketing to deliver relevant content for each customer at the right time, boosting engagement and reducing churn. Additionally, secondary touchpoints like rewards apps can be a powerful tactic to keep shoppers coming back for seconds.

According to Google’s 2019 Holiday Shopping Trends study, mobile searches for “rewards apps” and “black Friday deals” are up 200 percent this year.

Take for example CPG company Hidden Valley Ranch (a Clorox-owned brand). Web Analytics Manager Kesha Patel experimented with a personalization engine that led to double-digit growth in the company’s eCommerce business in each of the two consecutive years following the program’s launch. Says Kesha, “There’s a clear line from increased engagement to increased sales.”

Savvy builders of online shopping experiences shouldn’t discount (see what we did there?) the massive potential for improvement through personalized lifecycle marketing on mobile channels.

With our benchmarks report as the springboard, we can start to tease out the traits that the most covetable brands in eCommerce share. A closer look tells us that the top online retailers use data and analytics to accelerate speed to market. They understand that eCommerce products today must serve up mobile as the main course. Most importantly, they’re deeply attuned to consumer shopping habits and the factors that make people ultimately ‘add to cart’.

Whether you’re in the business of selling or buying (or both), we’re sending you our best wishes for deals and dollar signs aplenty. Happy shopping this weekend.

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