Retailers aren't the only ones paying close attention to shopping holidays. Network operators are also weighing the effects that bargain hunters are having on Internet traffic.
According to the Verizon Retail Index, which monitors ecommerce traffic across the company's networks to the top U.S.-based online retailers – a group that includes Amazon, Wal-Mart and Apple – e-commerce traffic was up 9 percent this past Black Friday (Nov. 25) compared to last year. At its peak, traffic jumped a whopping 39 percent, indicating that retailers are effectively connecting with today's tech-savvy consumers, said Michele Dupré, group vice president, retail, distribution and hospitality, at Verizon Enterprise Solutions.
"Retailers have learned to engage consumers in a digital world given shopper response to Black Friday offers," said Dupré in a statement. "The focus on refining the digital experience however must strike the right balance with engagement strategies that make stores destinations."
On Thanksgiving Day, e-commerce traffic jumped 10 percent compared to last year, with a 22-percent increase in peak traffic. The prior weekend saw increases of 15 percent and 35 percent, respectively.
Contrary to generally accepted notions about mobile devices and their impact on the retail industry, Verizon witnessed a 2-percent decline in mobile commerce traffic leading up to Thanksgiving. Mobile commerce peak traffic jumped a slight 2 percent.
Generally, things are looking up for U.S. online retailers this holiday season.
"Retailers have refined their digital strategies. They recognize consumers still get excited about Black Friday deals, yet are enticing and rewarding early shoppers. It's too soon to tell what the season will bring, but early results are encouraging," stated Dupré.
CIOs and IT managers, meanwhile, may want to ready themselves for the impending crush of online shoppers.
On Black Friday, the Macy's website (also among those tracked by the Verizon Retail Index) had trouble keeping up with online orders, reported Bloomberg. Visitors of both the desktop and mobile versions of the company's site were met with delays and technical problems.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) expects 122 million shoppers in the U.S. to fill up their virtual shopping carts on Cyber Monday (Nov. 28) this year, up slightly from 121 million last year. Most of those shoppers (98.6 million) plan to use their home PCs while 11.2 million will be scoping out bargains on their work PCs. Twenty-three percent of Cyber Monday shoppers, or more than 28 million people, said they will use a mobile device to land a deal, a drop from last year's 29.6 million.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.