< Back to Insights

Cyber Monday and Smartphones: Can You Hear Me Now?

Reportedly, and not surprisingly, Cyber Monday is the holiday that won’t go away. A veritable sale sandwich of a weekend, as evidenced by my non-stop-pinging-email-inbox-of-doom ™, Monday during this holiday weekend has evolved from a “but wait, there’s more!” day to a very solid, “let’s all not leave the house for an extra hour this morning and spend some good, old-fashioned credit” day.

But, there’s a difference this year that makes it even more interesting to watch how Cyber Monday ebbs and flows over the next few cycles: Smartphone sales. According to Adobe, sales via smartphones for this year have increased by about 12%, and, for the first time ever, eclipsing the $1 billion mark. That’s impressive, but it’s also telling. It’s not that Cyber Monday trended so much higher than previous years in general, or that the economy had a massive impact on the day itself, it’s just that the balance is tipping to a more “on-the-go” model for spending, more so than in previous years.

This single indicator has a direct impact on three things:


I’ll have to choose the easiest one, first, because as we all know the difference between designing a retail or commerce experience has much more to do with speed and product imagery than it does storytelling and fluff.

If we’re rightly thinking that the turning point for easier shopping began with Responsive Design with Ethan Marcotte’s direction in 2010, and the mobile app design brought to life before this, then shoppers are now benefiting from a much more mature, advanced, and weather-beaten approach to ease of purchase. And, with this more mature ease of purchase comes a large arsenal of modular, retail design. Compartmentalizing and finally separating merchandising from story and presenting it back in the correct way (deviate if you like, but this is the deal in front of you, mindset) you have a more navigable, less confusing system. And, it’ll mature even more as we find new ways to fully integrate ad space into products within products.

Experience Strategy

As just mentioned, ads and ad space on mobile will have to get even smarter, which means media jockeying and buying is even less about flights and placement. It’s about partnerships. Ad agencies and their partners will have to figure out how to better integrate the placement of “like-minded” products or find a different way to showcase their wares. For example: It would most likely make sense for a product image partnership between kitchen appliance company A and food-related company B. And, it’s happened for years, but not from the perspective of a smartphone shopper with real estate the size of a thumb and the ability to pay attention like a wound-up Shih Tzu.

Analytics and Technology

A number of well-funded brands have teams of people who are constantly looking at the analytics, tweaking and running A/B tests, and adjusting in literal minutes as things happen on their experiences. Small to mid-market businesses are getting very creative about how they work with limited resources. From loyalty metrics to heat-source on displays, software is helping get everyone on the same playing field.

We’ve watched the smartphone mature over time, and for some, it took forever. For most, it’s rushing past them and their teams at a breakneck speed. The truth is always in the middle, and we’re excited that we’re in the middle of it all.